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Concrete-less Jungle: medians to get green makeover

The concrete slabs that divide Hillside Avenue in Queens Village will soon be replaced with several new green drainage spaces, better protecting the eastern Queens neighborhood from flooding.
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Vincent Sapienza says the seven new green spaces along Hillside Avenue will capture millions of gallons of stormwater, reducing local flooding and overflows of the sewer system.
In September, an overflowed sewer system was a main culprit behind the damage sustained during Hurricane Ida.
“Pavement is not our friend,” said Sapienza outside Martin Van Buren High School last week. “We want to try and get as many permeable surfaces in the city as we can and let the ground do its work and soak up stormwater rather than have it runoff and cause flooding.”
The project is anticipated to break ground in late 2022 and construction will continue for up to 12 months. The total cost of the project is approximately $2.5 million.
True to its name, the stretch of Hillside Avenue in the northern part of Queens Village is situated at the bottom of a hill, parallel to the Grand Central Parkway. DEP says a minimum of 5 million gallons will be captured in the new green spaces, which will also serve as habitat for pollinators and other threatened species in Jamaica Bay.
Councilman Barry Grodenchik described the current medians as “a sea of concrete.”
“The honey locust trees didn’t do well here” said Grodenchik. “This is going to change the environment here. It’s going to make the area literally cooler, because we won’t have the concrete soaking up all this heat.”
Incoming councilwoman Linda Lee vowed to see the project to its completion.
“Hopefully it can be a space the students and the community can utilize, because one thing that COVID has taught us is that outdoor spaces cannot be taken for granted,” said Lee. “I think this project will be a huge resource and benefit for the community.”
Kirby Lindell, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1958, is thrilled with the planned upgrades.
“I’ve been writing letters since before Barry was the councilman,” said Lindell. “In the summer, the only thing that survived was the weeds.”
Instead, Lindell and his neighbors will soon see the patches of concrete replaced with new trees and native plantings, with the addition of environmentally friendly green infrastructure
“I am so happy,” added Lindell. “I know how difficult it is even for the local council people to get projects like this done with all the bureaucratic stuff that goes with it. It’s going to be so important to people in our neighborhood.”

MidVille Kiwanis hosts 10th Annual Food Drive

Last week, the Kiwanis Club of Middle Village distributed food baskets to the community ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“The Middle Village Kiwanis has delivered food to over 1,000 families over the last 10 years, sticking to its core mission of helping one person and one family at a time and giving people something to smile about,” said Alphonse Gentile, a senior vice president at Cross County Savings Bank and event coordinator of the food drive.
The 10th annual food drive was held at a Cross County branch at 80-10 Eliot Avenue. Recipients of this year’s drive included United Methodist Church and St. Margaret Catholic Church, both in Middle Village, Notre Dame Catholic Academy in Ridgewood, and Saints Joachim & Anne Church and Little Sisters of the Poor in Queens Village.
“Everyone should be able to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones, even when times are tough,” said J. Nicolois, who sits on the club’s Fundraising Committee. “Middle Village Kiwanis takes pride in collecting and distributing food for the holiday season.”

Five arrested in Middle Village mayhem

Five people were arrested after a large group of protestors marched through Middle Village on Friday, damaging property along the way.
The group was observed by officers at about 8:30 p.m. marching and throwing garbage cans in the path of police vehicles attempting to follow them.
Police also say the group attempted to break mailboxes, damage parked vehicles and tore down several flags.
Social media posts by the NYPD and Councilman Robert Holden on Friday night and Saturday morning show vehicles damaged and one car spray-painted with the words “F— You.” Its “Thin Blue Line” flag decal was spray-painted over.
“The NYPD takes its responsibility to protect the 1st amendment rights of peaceful demonstrators seriously,” the NYPD posted to Twitter. “Just as important is the safety of NYers & the protection of property from people breaking the law in the name of protest. As seen tonight in Queens, they will be arrested.”
None of the five people arrested were from Queens, They face charges of rioting, unlawful assembly and obstructing governmental administration, among others. A hatchet, axe and spray paint were also recovered by police.
Kyrk Freeman, a 22-year-old from Brooklyn; Charles Edmonds, a 37-year-old from Freehold, New Jersey; Jonathan Lefkowitz, a 38-year-old from Brooklyn; Daniel Wattley, a 28-year-old from Brooklyn; and Alexander Davis, a 33-year-old from Brooklyn were takeninto custody.
Demonstrators hit the streets just hours after the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict was announced on Friday afternoon. Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges, including first-degree intentional homicide in connection with the August 2020. Rittenhouse fatally shot two protestors and injured a third in the riots that occured in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Holden renewed his call for peaceful protests during a press conference with mayor-elect Eric Adams the following day.
Speaking to this paper, Holden said the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case was an excuse for what he calls “anarchists” and “spoiled brats” to cause damage.
“They’re totally misguided,” said Holden. “These idiots were looking for anything to destroy.”
The councilman said the neighborhood could have been targeted because it is a “pro-police” neighborhood.
“They could’ve targeted us because we were white, if they’re doing that it’s racism,” said Holden.
Elsewhere on social media, videos show police following protestors and threatening them with arrest. The footage shows a group yelling, “Good night, alt-right! No Nazis in our town tonight!”
Adams released a statement following the Rittenhouse verdict focused on reforming the country’s gun laws.
“The Rittenhouse ruling should be the last horrifying piece of evidence we need to reverse dangerous gun laws in America and reject the culture of hate and bias that leads to violence,” it read. “Whether it’s in Southern Wisconsin or East New York, guns sold in one state are used to create death and mayhem on the streets of another day.”

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.”

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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