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New Eagle Scouts congratulated by prominent figures

From former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Pope Francis, four local Eagle Scouts were celebrated by numerous prominent figures both close to home and far away.

Massimo Accardo, Éamonn Dobey, Aidan Haran, and Oisin Haran from Boy Scouts Troop 45 of Woodside recently completed all the requirements, including their final projects, to become Eagle Scouts.

Their combined Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held at St. Mary’s of Winfield in Woodside on June 17.

The Eagle Scouts watched as Fred Coltrinari initiated the traditional Lighting the Eagle Trail Ceremony

All natives of Maspeth and Middle Village, the four young men dedicated their projects to serve local communities. Accardo and Dobey focused on the upkeep and preservation of Forest Park, Aidan Haran restored the backyard of Bonitas Youth Service in Manhattan, and Oisin Haran made renovations and repairs to the schoolyard of St. Mel’s Catholic Academy in Flushing.

“This is an occasion for pride and joy, as well as a time for serious reflection,” Fred Coltrinari, chartered organization representative of Troop 45, said.

“Eagle Scout is the highest recognition that scouting offers to scouts is earned. Only a small percentage of boys who begin scouting receive this honor,” he continued. “The wearer of the Eagle award is the epitome of scouting’s best efforts and beliefs.”

Throughout the ceremony and the various speeches given, the unique bond between the scouts, families, and troop leaders was apparent.

“All the faces that I recognize from throughout the years, you guys have really made this experience worthwhile. From Cub Scouts at six-years-old, these are the families and faces that I’ve seen since day one, and they’ve always been like brothers and sisters,” Accardo said.

“Other parents have been like parents to me, driving me to and from camp, taking care of me, and just looking out for me like I was one of their own,” he continued. “I really appreciate that; it goes a long way.”

From left to right: Éamonn Dobey, Oisin Haran, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Fred Coltrinari, Aidan Haran, Massimo Accardo, and State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

The four scouts expressed their gratitude to the troop leaders through the distribution of mentor pins and other sentimental items.

“I have known these boys for a long time, and I am so proud of their projects,” Marie Casalaspro, den leader, said.

“We had the quarantine during the pandemic, but that didn’t stop them,” she continued. “It was amazing to see.”

Donna Manetta, committee chairperson for Troop 45, made arrangements so the ceremony was extra special, including putting together a slideshow of troop photos from over the years, making poster board presentations for the four projects, and reaching out to noteworthy local, national, and even international figures.

The four Eagle Scouts received commendations from a long list of names, including the New York Jets, the Mets, NASA, Sen. Chuck Schumer, former president George Bush, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

Other local elected officials including State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Congresswoman Grace Meng, and Councilman Robert Holden showed up in-person to celebrate the scouts’ achievements.

“I love Eagle Scout ceremonies because this teaches leadership, and we need good leaders not only in this country, but certainly in the city,” Holden said. “These were great projects, and I want to try to promote more Eagle Scout projects like this. Most of them are community service-based, which teaches the importance of teamwork and volunteering.”

Meng presented the scouts with American flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol on behalf of them specifically. She said that these flags are reserved for only the highest achievements of constituents in the district.

Addabbo thanked the scouts for their community service, and presented each of them with a citation from the New York State Senate.

“The founder of Boy Scouts, Robert Baden-Powell, once spoke about boys and changing their attitude to go from what they can get to what they can give. As an elected official, that’s what we are so appreciative of,” Addabbo said.

“During these troubled two years with the COVID pandemic, so many people were in need. Scouts throughout our area were giving out food, helping those in need,” he continued. “Scouts are on a great path. Many are successful in life, and they’re good citizens. These citations not only acknowledge their achievement, going from ordinary to extraordinary and being there when the community needs them.”

Remembering Woodside’s Daniel Andrews

Councilwoman Julie Won and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards honored the late Queens stalwart Dan Andrews with a street co-naming ceremony last Saturday, June 4, near his former family home in Woodside.

The intersection of 54th Street and 32nd Avenue will forever be known as Daniel Andrews Way.

The event was attended by over 100 people who came to celebrate a man so near and dear to the Woodside community. Friends, family, representatives of the local FDNY firehouse, as well as former Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, Juliet Papa of 1010WINS, Dave Seifman of the New York Post and Alexandra Rosa, longtime Borough President representative and Chief of Staff under two former Borough Presidents.

Born and raised in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, Andrews graduated from St. John’s University in 1970 and began his career in the new business as a photo caption writer at United Press International. He went on to become UPI’s Bureau Chief in New York’s City Hall, joining other members of the Room 9 press corps in covering then-Mayor Ed Koch and the rest of City government.

After leaving UPI, Andrews went on to serve for 23 years as press secretary to Queens Borough President’s Claire Shulman and Helen Marshall. Upon his retirement in 2013, the New York Daily news noted that Andrews, “may well be the longest serving government spokesperson in the city.”

He eventually married his wife, Deirdre, and raised two children in their loving Woodside home, before moving to Bronxville, NY. Dan passed away on October 12, 2020 at the age of 72.

Rezoning seeks to allow 13-story building in Woodside

The owners of 62-04 Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside are requesting a zoning variance to build a 13-story building, taller than the nine stories permitted under the current zoning.
The rezoning’s co-applicants – Astoria-based developer Woodside 63 Management LLC and the local dance and theater non-profit Mare Nostrum Elements, INC. – discussed the potential benefits of the project at Wednesday’s virtual hearing.
“With Mare Nostrum’s assistance, we began engaging with the community about five years ago,” said Steve Lysohir from Woodside 63’s ownership team. “We heard several priorities. Affordable housing, particularly so close to mass transit, is key to the community’s successful future
“Woodside deserves attractive architecture that fits in with the neighborhood around it,” he added. “Many arts organizations have been pushed out of their homes, and so we were inclined to include them based on feedback from Mare Nostrum.”
The proposed mixed-use development would function as both a residential building and community center.
In accordance with the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, the owners of 62-04 Roosevelt are working to ensure that 25 percent of the apartments (54 of the planned 213 units) will be affordable.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Mare Nostrum Elements co-founder Kevin Albert also spoke at length about the nonprofit’s plan to make the new building a haven for local artists.
“We hope the development will be a space for people in the community,” Albert said. “The current model of performance art spaces in the city does not work. The pandemic has shown us that.”
The plans for 62-04 Roosevelt include studio and performance spaces for dance groups, musicians, and artists. Woodside 63 and Mare Nostrum plan on lending the space to local community groups for free rehearsals and then renting the space to other groups to raise more revenue.
Mare Nostrum also hopes on holding its own community-focused dance and art classes in the space as well.
In addition to housing and community amenities, much of Wednesday’s hearing was focused on transportation and sustainability. The site is located in close proximity to the 61st Street Station on the 7 train, which lends itself to transit-oriented development.
“We also know this is a very climate-conscious community,” Lysohir explained. “One of the most important steps local governments can take to combat climate change is to promote density near mass transit.”
Lysohir also discussed the increase in Citi Bikes in the area, and expressed Woodside 63’s interest in working with community leaders to create more bike lanes in the neighborhood.
The developer also has plans to implement energy-saving aspects to its design, including solar-panels, high-efficiency cooling and heating, and high-performance insulated windows.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the developer also plans on reducing high-touch surfaces throughout the building.
The current single-story structure at 62-04 Roosevelt Avenue has been home to a series of struggling businesses. Lysohir and the Astoria-based Woodside 63 Management are hoping to revitalize the site.
If the variance isn’t approved, the developer still plans on constructing a nine-story, smaller version of the project that is allowed under the current zoning.

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