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Juniper track construction sees further delays

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Renovations to Juniper Valley Park’s track and field were put on the back burner when a large concrete clog in its main drainage line was discovered.

The project cannot resume until the concrete clog, as well as additional damage to a smaller section of pipe, is repaired.

Supply chain issues and a lack of registration with the comptroller’s office has shut out park goers from the facility for well over a year.

Gary Giordano, district manager of Queens Community Board 5, said that the change order was registered with the comptroller’s office in mid February, which was primarily for the subcontractor hired by the contractor, Applied Landscape Technologies, to remove drainage pipe from the site and replace it.

The contractor is supposedly working on getting permits from the Department of Buildings and the Department of Environmental Protection.

Giordano said they will need a temporary sheeting permit from the Department of Buildings, because the main sewer connection is 26 feet underground.

“That way, after the area around the pipe is excavated, the metal sheeting will prevent the rest of the Earth from covering the pipe again so there is room to work on it,” Giordano said.

Giordano said that it’s “hopeful” the contractor will start work in late March or early April.

“I am told that Applied Landscape Technologies is really on the ball with this, so if they can get their permits and start working, I would hope that they could start working by late this month or early April,” he said.

Giordano said that the long term closure of the track and field affects not just Middle Village, but its surrounding communities whose residents also use the facility.

“Soccer is more and more popular, and children and teenagers need to be able to run around and get some exercise. So now, the prime place for playing soccer in our neighborhoods is not available,” Giordano said.

“It’s forcing the soccer teams that had permits there to try to get permits elsewhere, which costs a lot of money. Children have a hard time not being able to practice close to home,” he continued. “Local football and soccer organizations are closed out of there, not to mention all the people who simply love to walk or jog around the track.”

Giordano added that if Applied Landscape Technologies can get back to work as planned, there is hope that the project will be completed before the end of 2022.

Middle Village Relay Kicks Off

Relay for Life Scheduled for Juniper Park in June

Senior Bank Officer at Maspeth Federal Kristen Sapienza with Leslie Orlovsky

The Middle Village Relay For Life began with a small, albeit passionate, band of a few dozen people who used the Juniper Valley Park Track for an “all-nighter campout” to raise awareness, and some money toward cancer.
A group of individuals made up teams with names like “Pin Heads” who were bowlers, and AK96, to solicit money for every lap around the track a team walked throughout the afternoon, night and morning on a weekend in June.
From its beginning 19 years ago, Maspeth’s own Leslie Orlovsky led the event for The American Cancer Society.
She and some volunteers engaged: Maspeth Federal, O’Neill’s, the Queens Ledger, Senator Maltese, the Glendale Kiwanis and Maspeth Moose Lodge.
That helped it grow from a dozen teams with 100 participants to a festival of luminaries, camp sites and music for 1,500 people with 75 teams, raising $220,000.
Since its inception, Middle Village has raised $2.6 million.
Last week, on March 2, the kick-off for the June 25 Relay for Life was held at O’Neill’s in Maspeth.
Fifty people attended: some cancer survivors, some who have family members afflicted and some who just want to be involved in an epic community event.
So far, the sponsors this year remain Maspeth Federal and include AllState/Kevin Spann.
To get involved call 347-675-5337.
To kick off the 2022 event, Relay Lifers Laura Hatton, Debbie Kuber, Marsha Fromowitz, Miguel Melendez and the Vegas were among those who spoke.
Maspeth Federal’s senior bank officer, Kristen Sapienza, announced a $10,000 donation from the bank to the Relay event.
There are a few meetings/events prior to the June 25 Relay for Life at Juniper Park. Team captain meetings are scheduled for March 24, April 19 and May 19.

Person robbed at gunpoint near Juniper Park

A gunpoint robbery took place on the night of November 9 in Middle Village near Juniper Valley Park.
Officer Michael Berish of the 104th Precinct shared details of the incident at last week’s Community Board 5 meeting, as well as a meeting of 104COP/G-COP in Glendale.
He said two people met near the park on Lutheran Avenue with the agreement that the victim would test drive a vehicle he might buy from the suspect. Instead, the suspect pulled out a gun and demanded cash, stole it, and then drove off in the car.
“It is a robbery pattern that is taking place going around the city,” Berish said. “We’ve seen it throughout all of Queens North in all of the precincts, as well as some of Brooklyn North.”
At the CB5 meeting, Berish also shared crime statistics for the whole precinct. Over the last 28-day period, the 104th Precinct has seen a 3 percent decrease in overall crime, with a 30 percent downward trend for robberies specifically.
This did not add up for Patrick Trinchese, who has lived in the neighborhood for 43 years.
“Growing up in this neighborhood, to sit here and say crime is going down is absurd to me,” he said. “I want to know whether they’re going down in number and they’re shifting in severity. This was always a good area for grand theft auto and grand larceny, but it seems that there’s more violent crimes.”
Berish said there has been a “slight uptick” in violent crime throughout the precinct. In a two-year time span the precinct has seen an increase of 1.6 percent, but over the last five years there has been a decrease of 1.6 percent.
A Middle Village resident who has lived in the area for over 20 years said he wasn’t aware of the recent robbery, but isn’t surprised it occurred.
“A lot has changed in the neighborhood over time,” said the resident, who asked that his name be withheld. “About 10 years back is when it really started to get bad. It used to be once a month that the cops would come by, now every other day I hear sirens, so it really would not surprise me at all if there was a gunpoint robbery right here.”

Two arrests in attack of firefighter in Middle Village

Two teenagers who were part of a crowd who attacked a 44-year-old man who was walking his dog near Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village have been arrested.
The names of the 14-year-old and 15-year-old suspects are being withheld by police because of their age. Both have been charged with gang assault.
The assault took place on Friday at 10 p.m., when the victim confronted a group of people lighting fireworks, yelling and screaming. A verbal dispute escalated into a physical encounter.
A video captured by a bystander that was posted to the Juniper Park Civic Association’s Facebook page documented the moments leading up to the assault. The victim can be seen backpedaling away from the crowd as members of the group take away his dog and press closer.
Seconds later, the off-duty firefighter was tackled to the ground and driven into the concrete by an assailant who managed to wrap his arms around both of the victim’s legs.
What appears to be a group of about ten men in their early 20s descend on the victim, who is physically overwhelmed by the crowd and unable to escape, unleashing a series of kicks and punches.
The victim sustained cuts and bruising, but refused medical attention.
“Last night, things spun completely out of control,” said Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa. “You had upwards of 200 young adults rampaging through the park at different intervals, and then descended on a man walking his dog.
“Thugs and ‘thugettes’ know there are no consequences for their actions because almost nobody gets arrested any longer in this city,” continued Sliwa. “We’re going to try to bring some civility to a park that was always known as a peaceful sanctuary for the people in Middle Village and Glendale.”
While acts of violence are unusual, fireworks and late-night parties are not, said Paul Howells, a Middle Village resident who is fed up with the excessive use of fireworks throughout the summer in the park. “These people come around in cars, set them off and just leave all the trash there.”
Matthew Wenz, an 18-year-old student who will be attending Adelphi University in the fall and lives near the park, could not believe that kids from his neighborhood would attack a civil servant.
“It’s disgusting,” he said “It’s a horrible attack that shouldn’t happen anywhere, never mind this neighborhood.”
Councilman Bob Holden was quick to react following the attack and condemned the crowd’s behavior. Before being elected to the City Council, Holden was the longtime president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
Holden met with the 104th Precinct’s commanding officer and representatives from the Parks Department to demand immediate action to keep the park safe.
“Quality-of-life crimes, like unreasonable noise, lead to more serious crime and it must be shut down so that our parks are peaceful and safe,” Holden said. “Deputy Inspector [Louron] Hall assured me that enforcement will be stepped up with added measures taken so that there will be no more incidents like the one at Juniper Valley Park.”

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