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LaGuardia Airport - Airplane Noise - LGA NYNJPA FAA | laguardia airport airplane noise lga nynjpa new york new jersey port authority lag FAA federal aviation administration queens jackson heights nyc
LaGuardia Airport - Airplane Noise - LGA NYNJPA FAA

LaGuardia Airport - Airplane Noise

Jackson Heights, Corona & Queens Voice Concerns Regarding LGA Airplane Noise

FAA Considering Extension of LaGuardia Airport Hours & Other Changes

October 19, 2015 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Queens Issues LaGuardia Airport Noise LGA / Queens Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz.

I attended a town hall meeting about the airplane noise coming from LaGuardia Airport at PS 69 in Jackson Heights. The town hall had been organized by NYS Senator Peralta’s office and the panel of speakers included local government officials and representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] and the New York New Jersey Port Authority [NYNJPA].

Standing Room Only at PS 69

The auditorium was packed and there were people lined up along the walls as well as standing in the back of the auditorium. Airplane noise has emerged as a big issue for Jackson Heights due to a couple of construction projects going on at the airport – both of which will be completed at the end of November.

Cynical Audience Member's Point of View

The timing of the town hall meeting, only six weeks before the construction was to end, led one of the local pundits to cynically suggest that this was merely political theater, rather than an effort to accomplish anything substantive.

There was an earlier town hall meeting organized about two years ago by NYC City Councilmember Dromm, to tackle the problem in its early stages, and while it was happening - not after it was all over - which is what we're close to today.

But that said, these town hall meetings are not just political theater, although inevitably that is some of it, which you will see in the video. And while the immediate problem will subside, we discovered that there a number of efforts either underway or in the planning stages, in which the community has a vested stake in the outcomes.

Not Said In Meeting: Federal Register States That Consideration Is Being Given To Extending LGA's Operational Hours & Slots

In doing follow up research I found a piece on the Federal Register government website that informed me that the FAA is considering changing the operational hours and slots for LaGuardia Airport. This was not discussed at the town hall [click into story for additional detail]. We also found other things that were either scarcely touched upon or not addressed, which we included in this report.

Click here to read the rest of this report about LaGuardia Airport Airplane Noise and the NYNJPA & FAA in Queens. The report includes video presentations, including some audience interaction, and a photo slide show and other information about FAA air traffic changes, airplane noise and what you can do about it.

Van Bramer & Peralta Support $8 Tolls on Queensboro Bridge | congestion traffic pricing plan move ny plan erect tolls on east river bridges tolls queensboro bridge brooklyn bridge tolls manhattan bridge tolls williamsburg bridge tolls
Van Bramer & Peralta Support $8 Tolls on Queensboro Bridge

Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan

Proposal To Toll Tax Away NYC Traffic Congestion Caused By A Century Of NYC Infrastructure Designed With Manhattan As The Hub

Van Bramer & Peralta Support 'Move NY' Plan Which Calls For The Installation Of $8 Tolls On Queensboro, Brooklyn, Manhattan & Williamsburg Bridges

November 9, 2015 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Government & Politics / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz.

NYC Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and 14 Democratic Progressives recently embraced the Move NY Congestion Traffic Price Plan, which among other things, calls for $8 tolls [or $5.54 with the use of an EZ Pass] on all East River Bridges, including Queensboro, Brooklyn, Manhattan & Williamsburg Bridges.

NYS Senator Jose Peralta of Jackson Heights / Corona has been an early advocate of the Move NY Congestion Traffic Price Plan.

Most of the rest of the Queens government officials do not support the plan. And hence we decided to take a closer look into the plan, to better understand what the issues are.

And we were more than a little bit surprised at what we found.

How Do The Plan Assumptions Stack With Known Realities?

In this report we’re going to describe the Move NY repackaged Congestion Traffic Price Plan. Specifically we will explore the assumptions upon which the plan is based, and then go behind the curtain to explore some of the relationships between the different groups pushing the plan, in order to better understand the economics of the politics.

Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan Organizers & Shadow Lobbyists

move ny congestion pricing traffic plan jose peralta photoAfter the meeting I started investigating the Move NY Fair Plan and stumbled across a website name that feeds into the Move NY organization's website. The current Move NY official website name is www.iheartmoveny.org - but you can also get there using www.move-ny.org - which will forward you to the same site.

The owners of the www.move-ny.org site are listed as Blue State Digital, which is a public relations firm. Their website says that they,

"... build and galvanize communities on behalf of some of the world’s leading nonprofits, advocacy groups, and brands."

They were written up in a New York Times OpEd piece by Thomas Edsell entitled Shadow Lobbyists, as a new class of public relations firms that galvanize public opinion in the same way that one galvanizes support for political candidates. It's still public relations, but the techniques are different. We'll probe the vested interested parties in more detail a bit further into the story.

In Move NY 'Fair' Plan There's More Than A Dozen(s) Of "Komanoff Assumptions or Estimates"

charles komanoff balanced traffic analyzer BATCharles Komanoff is a consultant for the Sam Schwartz Move NY 'Fair' Plan. The Move NY Plan appears to have relied very heavily [or entirely?] on Komanoff's BTA or Balance Transportation Analyzer. In a quick perusal at some of the underlying math, I found easily more than a dozen estimates and assumptions which were entitled 'Komanoff Estimate' or 'Komanoff Assumption'.

It's worth noting that in general, economic models such as the Balanced Transportation Analyzer or BTA, can be made to produce any conclusion one wants, if one is in control of the underlying assumptions.

Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan Assumptions & Pricing Elasticity

There are many underlying assumptions baked into the Move NY Plan that are worth questioning in far greater detail. But the biggest key assumption to congestion traffic pricinginvestigate is the pricing elasticities baked into the plan. Pricing elasticity predicts whether or not people will drive over a bridge or a road, if the price of the toll on the bridge / road increases or decreases.

Based on a number of studies done over the past decade, including two in the New York City area, some drivers will adjust the time of day they travel over a toll bridge or road slightly, in order to obtain a discounted rate, but few appear to decide whether or not to use a bridge or toll road because of a toll price increase.

Part of the implicit positioning of the plan is that it will reduce carbon emissions. Implicit because both Komanoff who provided the BTA [Balanced Transportation Analyzer] econometric model for the Move NY Plan, and Matthiessen who runs the public relations firm lobbying for the Move NY organization, are on the board of the Carbon Tax Center. More on this later.

Independent Studies Have Shown That Toll Price Increases Negligibly Impact WHETHER Or Not Drivers Will Use Bridges Or Roads Vs Public Transit, But Can Impact WHEN

congestion traffic pricingThe studies of the impact of toll price changes on roads and bridges, were done by independent institutions like established universities and governments. The goal was to determine if pricing can be used to alter traffic patterns. We will provide you with the results of some of these studies further into this report, so you can judge for yourself whether or not to rely on the assumptions embedded in the Make NY Plan by consultant Charles Komanoff.

For those of you who didn't get a chance (or weren't interested) in studying economics, price elasticity is:

"… is a measure of the responsiveness of demand or supply of a good or service to changes in price. The price elasticity of demand measures the ratio of the proportionate change in quantity demanded to the proportionate change of the price."

An elastic price means if the price goes up, the quantity goes down and vice versa. An inelastic price means that people won't change their behaviors much in response to price increases move ny congestion traffic pricing- oftentimes because they don't have what they consider to be reasonable alternatives.

Take electricity into your household prior to deregulation as an example. If the monopoly power company took a price increase, you didn't quit using the lights, stove, TV, furnace or washer / dryer because the options weren't that reasonable. Apparently the folks who use the toll bridges and toll roads don't feel they have good options either. So if the price of a toll bridge or toll road goes up, there's a negligible change in usage behavior - except with respect to shifting the time of use.

Of course in this case, the Move NY Plan is really advocating more than a toll price increase, as they are advocating the introduction of tolls where they had not been.

Toll prices appear to influence bridge / road usage times [eg. motorists plan their trips either immediately before or after peak periods] but do not appear to alter the means of transportation chosen [eg. take the car vs take the train]. The implication is that there may not be an ecological benefit to this plan.

NEW: Congestion Pricing Experience In London

London, Stockholm and Milan have implemented Congestion Traffic Pricing Plans in parts of their cities. One cannot underestimate the differences between New York City and its European counterparts including road widths [the plans targeted European Medieval town centers], the population density [Manhattan is many times more dense than of any of them], the geography [Manhattan is an island connected by 18 bridges and tunnels, while London, Milan & Stockholm are not] and so forth.

That said, London was the first city to implement congestion traffic pricing in 2003. We will take a brief look into some of the outcomes of that implementation later in this report, but the two key findings that stick with me are: 1) London never went forward with extending the Congestion Traffic Pricing zone and 2) it's been reported that the implementation infrastructure costs were very sizeable.

New York City Transit System Designed in 1900 & Built by 1961 When NYC Was A Different Place

gridlock sam schwartz llc consultingIn 1900 Manhattan represented 52% of the population of New York City and Brooklyn represented 33% - the remaining 15% was spread in the other three boroughs which were somewhat rural and low density population areas.

Around the turn into the 20th century city planning, by necessity, came into vogue. And it was also the time during which New York City mass transit began being built. By 1940 most of the build out was completed save the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (1950), the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (1961) and the Throgs Neck Bridge (1961).

Today Manhattan represents about 20% of the population, while Brooklyn is about 30%, Queens 27%, Bronx 17% and Staten Island 6%. If you look at the map below, you'll see how the bridges and tunnel transportation infrastructure converges on Manhattan because that's historically and still the New York City hub.

Can The City Toll Price Its Way Out Of A Century Of Infrastructure Design & Build?

gridlock sam schwartz llc consultingThe total bridge / tunnel crossings of the outer four boroughs is 28 and 15 of them are with Manhattan. Manhattan by itself has a total of 18 crossings, including the 15 just mentioned and another 3 major crossings coming in from New Jersey.

Decades of prior New York City Mayors and New York State Governors & the respective legislative bodies have failed to recognize and address perhaps the most basic reality and issue facing the New York City transportation system today - that the overall transportation infrastructure was designed and built 70 to 100 years ago to serving Manhattan as the hub.

While the population densities of the boroughs has changed significantly, Manhattan still remains the center of the city in terms of commercial and cultural activity and this is due in part to its accessibility.

How Fair Is The Move NY 'Fair' Plan?

Sam Schwartz's Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan appears to be a socially and economically regressive tax increase because if it succeeds, the brunt of the pain will be borne by the lower and middle income wage earners who will bear the costs if they can't leave their car - and if they do, who will put an even greater strain on the subway system which already appears to be running near full capacity. The subway system is a transit category upon which the Move NY Plan only marginally touched upon.

Geographically the burden targets the Bronx, Manhattan and other motorists who cross Manhattan at 60th Street and the motorists including from Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan who cross the East River. They are not, as the Move NY Plan states, crossing for free because they contribute plenty to the public coffers in high rents, property taxes and municipal taxes that support both New York City and New York State infrastructure. And many of whom likely need to use their cars to enter Manhattan because they probably don't have good choices, contrary to what Move NY Plan hypothecates.

The Move NY Plan will certainly raise needed funds for public transit, and might possibly reduce carbon emissions IF the motorists re-schedule their trips AND the new tolls REDUCE bottlenecks at the East River Bridges and along 60th Avenue in Manhattan - not make them worse. Currently neither the bridges nor the 60th Street cross line have tolls.

The research indicates that the plan will not likely reduce the number of motorist trips as toll pricing appears to be inelastic and thus not a deciding variable as to whether or not people use their cars. And if the London experience is any guide, expect a sizable chunk of new revenue to go toward creating and managing the implementation of the Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan in lieu of investments in other public transit.

Click here for the rest of our story about the Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan as we explore in greater detail a connected web of people, lobbyists and organizations behind Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan and their possible motivations. We critique the plan including a review of the assumptions, and a closer look at independent studies done with regard to motorists response to toll prices and changes.

Queens Unemployment - Employment in Queens NYC & NYS | queens employment unemployment queens county nyc nys employment unemployment rates 2015
Queens Unemployment - Employment in Queens NYC & NYS

Queens Employment Rate Continues To Best NYC Metro

September 23, 2015 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Business / Queens Buzz.

Queens County continued its streak of besting three of the other four boroughs in New York City with respect to low unemployment. In the July period unemployment fell to 4.9%, which is slightly below what is generally considered a full employment unemployment rate of 5%.

Queens Employment Fueled By Building Boom

Queens is currently experiencing a building boom, with the epicenters in the neighborhoods of Long Island City, Astoria, Flushing and to a lesser extent Jamaica. In addition to the creation of temporary construction jobs which end when the building has been completed, some of the new commercial developments have targeted white collar office space, which has then been used to lure large commercial tenants from other boroughs, into Queens. Bloomingdales was one such recent company to announce a large move [a return] into Queens.

Click here to read the rest of our report on employment and unemployment in Queens, NYC and NYS.

Chatpati Mela Jackson Heights - Chhaya's South Asian Indian Bangladeshi Celebration | chatpati mela south indian celebration jackson heights neighborhood indian dance bangladeshi music entertainment
Chatpati Mela Jackson Heights - Chhaya's South Asian Indian Bangladeshi Celebration

Chatpati Mela

Chhaya's Celebration Of South Asian Food, Fashion & Cultures

September 21, 2015 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Ethnic Culture In Queens / Queens Buzz.

It was a beautiful day as I made my way to 78th Playstreet in Jackson Heights to attend the 5th Annual Chatpati Mela Festival. Each year the festival seems to enhance its dimensions through food, performance, cultural costumes and wares.

They had a number of vendor tents lined up along the 78th Playstreet corridor [it ceased being a city throughway years ago], as well as food tents. Toward the northern end of the street there was a stage where musical and dance performances were in session.

Click here to see the food, fashion and a video of the music and dance performances at Chatpati Mela in Jackson Heights.

Free Theater in Queens Parks - Free Things To Do In Queens - Astoria LIC Sunnyside Woodside Jackson Heights Corona Flushing Jamaica Long Island City | free things to do in queens free theater in astoria park athens square park gantry park lic sunnyside park windmuller park woodside travers park flushing meadows corona park king park jamaica free theater in queens parks free plays to watch in queens
Free Theater in Queens Parks - Free Things To Do In Queens - Astoria LIC Sunnyside Woodside Jackson Heights Corona Flushing Jamaica Long Island City

Free Theater In The Park - Free Things To Do In Queens 

Free Theatrical Performances / Summer Theater In Queens

Queens NY / July 21, 2015. This report includes a list of some of the free things to do in Queens this summer, including free theater in Queens parks.

Click here to view a listing of the dates and times of free summer theater in Queens - Shakespeare in the Park.

July 4th Fireworks In Queens | 4th of july fireworks in queens july 4th fireworks in queens lic astoria park fireworks 2015
July 4th Fireworks In Queens

4th of July Fireworks in Queens 2015

July 3, 2015 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz. The Macy's 4th of July fireworks will be shown along the East River this year. They were shown along the East River in 2014 for the first time since 2008. Mayor de Blasio had lobbied the change.

Weather. Highs will be in the mid 70's during the day and in the mid 60's at night. There's a 50% chance of light rain in the afternoon, dropping to 20% by evening. So it could be a near perfect night.

The Astoria Park Fireworks on June 30th were done by the Grucci Brothers, the same fireworks company doing the Macy's 4th of July fireworks in NYC. The Astoria Park fireworks in Queens were shown on Tuesday evening with an easy view from the Astoria Park location right alongside the East River. See story below about the Astoria Park Fireworks show of 2013 in Queens.

But for those looking for fireworks on 4th of July 2015, you'll have ample opportunity to view the fireworks as the pyrotechnic performance has been expanded this year. Click here for a report about the 4th of July Fireworks in Queens NYC & surrounding areas, including times and locations for the Macy's 4th of July fireworks in NYC and Jones Beach on Long Island.

Roosevelt Island - Four Freedoms Park | four freedoms park roosevelt island fireworks queens
Roosevelt Island - Four Freedoms Park

July 4th At Four Freedoms Park Roosevelt Island

Macy’s Expands NYC Fireworks Celebration Along East River

July 6, 2015 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Holidays / Queens Buzz.

It was a near perfect evening as I made my way toward the East River to watch the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display. The first Macy’s fireworks display was in 1976 for the second bi-centennial celebration.

The photo at right shows the Queens audience along the East River and northern tip of Gantry Park in Long Island City on Saturday night July 4th, just after the fireworks ended.

Last year Mayor de Blasio urged Macy’s to return the fireworks display to the East River, as it had been moved to the Hudson in 2008 in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the river named after him. Macy’s continued to host it there until 2014.

There were six barges along the Hudson in 2008, which was reduced to three barges surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge in 2014. This year they added two barges which were positioned further north along the East River four freedoms park fireworksmaking it possible to enjoy the display from many parts of western Queens along the East River.

We had identified many of the best places to watch the July 4th fireworks in Queens in an earlier posting, but given the changes, it was difficult to determine how far north along the East River one could go and still enjoy a good fireworks show.

So with that in mind I made my way toward the Queensboro Bridge as I was pretty certain it would be closed, but it would have been the perfect place from which to photograph the fireworks. As expected there were two police officers standing at the Queens entrance to the bridge and they informed me that it would not be open until 10.30 pm, or about a half hour after the fireworks display.

The photo at right shows the July 4th fireworks display from Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.

Click here for the rest of our story about the 4th of July fireworks display as seen from Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.

4th of July Queens | 4th of july queens fireworks queens independence day celebration fireworks astoria lic long island city queens fireworks
4th of July Queens

Happy Birthday America

Musings About the 4th of July in Queens

July 1, 2015 / Astoria Neighborhood & Long Island City Neighborhood / Queens Culture / Opinion Column / Queens Buzz.

It seems every six months or so, I get a chance to reflect on life. Since the July 4th holiday will soon be upon us, I’m going to expand that reflection to encompass the “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” put forth in the Declaration of Independence.

It seems the older folks who surrounded me in my youth were right. They told me that as you get older, the years will pass by more quickly. As a youngster I thought, “How can that be?” And while technically my youthful query was correct - perceptually it was not.

When I was ten years old, a year represented a tenth of my life. At 25 it represented only 4% of my life, and at 39 it’s a mere 2.5% [heh]. So the years do spin by more quickly, perhaps because they represent less and less a portion of the whole.

Julius Caesar, Mahatma Ghandi & American Independence

One might use this approach to looking back at things as a method to put in perspective so much else that has passed through time. Julius Caesar was said to have ruled the world, when in fact he primarily ruled the parts of Europe and the Middle East surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. And while he presided over a population that was about a fifth of the world’s population at the time, today the Roman Empire headcount is less than the population of Mexico.

july 4th queens nycFast forward to the 20th century and compare the legend of Julius Caesar to the legacy of Mahatma Ghandi. Ghandi was instrumental in organizing and freeing ten times as many people from British Empire rule, as lived under the rule of Julius Caesar in the Roman Empire. And Ghandi helped free his Indian people without the use of a single arrow, sword or gun.

About two centuries prior to Ghandi’s effort - in 1776 - the thirteen American colonies declared themselves free of British Empire rule. These colonies today comprise the states along the eastern seaboard of the United States, excluding Florida, but including a few of the states' inland neighbors, such as Pennsylvania.

The population of the American colonies, at the time the colonists declared their independence, was about 2.5 million or only a few hundred thousand more people, than the number of people that currently reside in Queens NYC today.

God, Home & Country

When I was a boy, I was taught to hold God, Home and Country in the highest regard. What each of these concepts meant to me at that time has changed over the years, as I accumulated knowledge and experience about the world, which challenged many of the assumptions taught to me in my youth.

july 4th queens 4th july queens nycSome measure of what I learned growing up, was in a sense, what anthropologists call tribal knowledge. It was a body of information / understandings / perspectives about the world that the community shared that had been passed from generation to generation.

The 'tribal knowledge' teachings were assumed to be fact – by all of us in the ‘tribe’ – even though the teachings were essentially a narrative developed by those in charge, interpreted by the tribal scribe, and based upon the group's understanding of the world / universe at the time. The narrative included messages about what's important, how to properly conduct oneself and in some measure our communal identity.

The written 'tribal' narrative evolves in tandem with the 'tribal' culture and it is reinforced, and at times reinterpreted, by the communal elders and institutions through ritual, ceremonies and celebrations. Celebrating our American independence on July 4th is one such 'tribal' cultural ritual and every year it gives us pause to reflect upon where we have come from, discuss who we are and think about where we are going.

Our 'tribe' has grown to be a nation that spans from sea to shining sea, and is home to nearly 320 million people.

Click here to read the rest of our story about 4th of July in Queens.

New York City Makes 'Budget Handshake'

queens politicsJune 23, 2015 / Queens Neigbhorhoods / Queens Politics / Queens Buzz.

We received this missive from New York City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal of the Upper West Side. We've made few edits, but the text is essentially a reprint of her email.

Over 100 hours of budget hearings revealed much information that helped to shape the final agreement. [Helen Rosenthal said that] As a member of the City Council's Finance Committee and the Budget Negotiating Team, I can honestly say that all 51 members of the Council had input to ensure that New Yorkers in every borough will get the services they need. In addition to major investments in neighborhood police, there is additional funding for mental health services, veterans, and Vision Zero education.

Photo Credit: William Alatriste for the New York City Council

Education and Youth

• There will be an increase of 80 school crossing guards citywide, and the Upper West Side will gain more crossing guards. Renewed focus on recruitment and retention will happen in discussions over the summer.
• There are unprecedented amounts of funding for our young adults from summer jobs and year-round jobs to support for City University of New York (CUNY) students to keep them in college and help them graduate. 
• The additional $39 million for libraries will yield 6-7 day a week service in every borough. 
• The free lunch program in middle schools will continue, and there will be an expansion of the "breakfast after the bell" program, so that all elementary schools will offer it by 2018.
• Teachers will receive up to $125 in reimbursement for school supplies that they bring into the classroom. While this is an improvement, it is not enough. We must give teachers all the tools they need to teach well, and I will continue to work to improve this system in the next fiscal year.

Tenant Protections

• Over $35 million for lawyers, clinics, and advocacy to support tenants who experience harassment by landlords - the largest the City has ever dedicated to this issue.
• Dedicated legal advice for public housing (NYCHA) residents in housing court at 250 Broadway.
• Dedicated team of inspectors to investigate particularly egregious landlords.

Seniors and Safety Net

• Elimination of the wait list for seniors needing home care services.
• Commitment to build 5,000 new units of senior affordable housing over the next five years with dedicated on-site social services.
• Additional funding for the emergency food program and local food banks.
• The largest investment in addressing elder abuse through outreach and social services.

Small Business Support

• Dedicated funds to local Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and civic associations. Council members will be able to designate money to support small business in their area.
• Double the investments in worker cooperative support yielding an additional 30-40 new worker-owned businesses throughout the City.

Contract Services 

• Community-based organizations providing EarlyLearn NYC services will receive wage parity with DOE employees providing that service.
• Increase of the minimum wage of "Human Service" contract workers to $11.50/hour with targeted career ladder support.
• Funding to continue providing local services from small, community non-profits that lost contracts through the citywide process. 

The City Council will formally "adopt" the City's budget at a Stated meeting later this week. At that time, we will have additional information about my dedicated funding for the Upper West Side. 

Again, this a reprint of an email from New York City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal of the Upper West Side.

Albany Legislative Session 2015

Final Bills: Public School Funding & Rent Stabilization Law

nys governor cuomo photoJune 15, 2015 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics / Queens Buzz.

There are two important bills expected to be finalized by the New York State Legislature this week: 1) one having to do with taxation and funding for the public schools and 2) the second having to do with NYC rent stabilization law.

I've been paying some modest measure of attention to both of these bills, and the following is a brief snapshot of a critical talking point in each bill.

Use Public Money To Fund Private Education?

From what I can gather, perhaps the most contentious item in the public education funding bill is the provision for sizeable tax deductions for those who choose to send their children to private, not public schools.

As I understand it, these tax deductions would be included as part of the funding for the public schools budget and therefore will reduce what's left for the NYS / NYC public school systems.

It's worth noting that private school tuition in NYC can cost in the range of about $5,000 to $30,000 per year per student. And that there are about 900 private schools in NYC alone, so depending on how these proposed deductions are ultimately structured, the funds reallocated from the public schools to private individuals would be in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars and possibly more.

You might want to contact Governor Cuomo's office at 1.518.474.8390 to let him know you support or oppose the measure, since we understand that he's been the major force pushing for this public school funding change. You can also send him an email via the Governor's contact form.

Albany & Expiring Rent Stabilization Laws

rent stabilzation laws queensThe Rent Stabilization Laws are due to expire tonight, June 15, 2015.

There was talk earlier this year that there would be a push to expand or strengthen the Rent Stabilization Laws given the rapid growth in homelessness in New York City. The NYC homeless population is currently estimated at over 60,000 or nearly 1% of the entire NYC population. About 70% of New York City residents are renters, of which about two million of less than eight and a half million residents, live in rent stabilized apartments.

Over the past decade or so, the Rent Stabilization Laws have been curtailed in the favor of the free market and landlords. The curtailment of rent price control legislation is believed to have spurred additional real estate development investment, as the profits of most new buildings are no longer affected by rent stabilization laws.

Much of the rapid growth in homelessness over the past decade is believed to be the result of tenants losing their rent stabilized apartments, as new owners of buildings have found ways to circumvent the laws. A recent NYU Furman Center Study has shown the loss of over 330,000 unsubsidized affordable apartments since 2002, due in part to the rent stabilization legislative changes referenced above.

NYS legislative insiders told me that tenants rights supporters were hoping to make legislative gains this year, but that the NYS Assemblypeople and NYS Senators opposing the changes, were going to allow the rent stabilization laws to expire as a negotiating tactic.

Vicki Been, Commissioner of NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, informed us that the current rent stabilization laws remain in effect through the term of existing leases and leases up for renewal that are already in the hands of the tenants. She also said that tenants should call 311 with any questions or problems.

Cuomo & NYS Officials - Quinnipiac Poll

nys polls june 2015On June 3, 2015 Quinnipiac released a poll showing voters are feeling negatively about the NYS Legislature as a whole, while continuing to favor their local representatives. In the poll Governor Cuomo has only a 2% margin of those favoring him.

Governor Cuomo had a 44% approval rating versus 42% disapproval rating, as voters are not satisfied with his handling of the corruption scandals that have plagued Albany this year. In February 2015 Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver [Democrat Manhattan] was indicted on federal corruption charges. And in May 2015 NYS Senate Leader Dean Skelos [Republican Long Island] was indicted by a federal Grand Jury.

Less than a year ago, NYS gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout, a law professor at Fordham University surprised polls by garnering nearly 2 votes for every 3 won by the governor in the NYS Democratic primary. Ms. Teachout did not have much in the way of significant private backing or union support, but won nearly 40% of the vote waging an online campaign.

According to the Quinnipiac poll, voters by a margin of 52% - 32% said that with respect to Albany's corruption problem:

"... the Governor is part of the problem, not part of the solution."

As for the NYS Assemblymembers and NYS Senators the Quinnipiac Poll reported the following:

"Voters disapprove 60 - 26 percent of the job the State Legislature is doing, but approve 44 - 37 percent of their own Assembly member and approve 54 - 31 percent of their own state senator."

"At the same time, 45 percent of voters say their state senator should be thrown out in a general house-cleaning, while 40 percent say their senator deserves reelection."

"Voters are divided 41 - 41 percent on whether their Assembly member should be reelected or thrown out."

As you can see, the sentiments collected in the Quinnipiac poll seem a bit contradictory, as the answers received depend on how the questions are stated. Nonetheless, this looks to be an interesting legislative week as things wind down in Albany, and as the 2016 election cycle begins to ramp up.

Sunnyside Yards | sunnyside yards queens sunnyside yards real estate development lic queens sunny side yards real estate development astoria sunnyside lic real estate realtors
Sunnyside Yards

Sunnyside Yards: Finding Our Place In Space & Time

Part II. History Of Transit & Housing In Queens: Sunnyside Yards

March 18, 2015 / Sunnyside / Queens Real Estate / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz.

In Part I of this report series about Mayor de Blasio's proposed development of Sunnyside Yards, we saw how Queens evolved from the rolling woods and farmlands of the early 19th century, into an industrial and manufacturing center along the East River waterfront in the second half of that century. In 1898 Queens became a part of New York City and the dawn of the 20th century had begun.

Work On The Steinway Tunnel Resumes & Begins The Era Of The Commute

In 1892 William Steinway [he died in 1896] began digging a tunnel underneath the East River between Queens and Manhattan. He had envisioned completing it to enable mass transit flows between Queens and Manhattan to enhance the value of his vast Astoria / Long Island City real estate holdings, but he died before that vision came to fruition. The Steinway Tunnel, which was named in his honor and which it carries to this day, is now the underground tunnel for the #7 subway line between Flushing Main Street in Queens, and Times Square in Manhattan. I shot the photo to right at LaGuardia Community College in LIC which shows a newspaper account of a 1907 test run of the line, three years after the completion of the Steinway Tunnel between Manhattan and Queens in 1904.

Large Scale Real Estate Development Begins In Queens

sunnyside yards housing jackson heightsFollowing the creation of the interborough subway lines, affordable housing developments followed in Jackson Heights, Forest Hills and Sunnyside. The photo at right shows a 1922 real estate development in Jackson Heights built for the upwardly mobile growing middle class. I shot this photo at the Jackson Heights Beautification Group's Historic House [Garden] Tour Weekend.

We ended Part I talking about Public Housing that ultimately became low income housing, and which had systemic problems attributed to the civil rights struggle of the mid 20th century, and which was followed by social upheaval accompanied by narcotics. While remnants of the past remain with us, the most egregious aspects of these historical issues have been ameliorated.

And so we begin Part II by taking a deeper dive into the evolution of New York City's transportation system and housing development, with an eye toward how mass transit and the auto enabled the daily movement of millions of people / workers between their workplaces in Manhattan to their homes in the outer boroughs - most notably of Queens.

What follows is Part II of a deeper look into the Mayor's proposed development of the Sunnyside Yards.

MTA: Subway Fare Increases March 22

mta subway fare hike march 2015February 13, 2015 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz.

The Board approved increasing the base fare for the subway, bus, and MTA Staten Island Railway by 25 cents to $2.75, while also more than doubling the bonus amount added to MetroCard® purchases of at least one round-trip.

The combination of the increased fare and the increased bonus creates an effective fare increase of 4.1%, or 10 cents, for the Bonus MetroCard, which is used for 43% of trips. The 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is used for 29% of trips, will increase 4% to $116.50. The 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is used for 21% of trips, will increase 3.3% to $31. The remaining 7% of trips are made using non-bonus MetroCards, cash on buses or Single Ride Tickets, which are largely purchased near major tourist destinations.

Snow Storm Skirts NYC

manhattan snowstorm 2015January 29, 2015 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz. On Monday evening NYC's mass transit system was shut down. It was announced that NYC public schools would be closed. And everyone was advised to prepare for a snowstorm that might bring 24 to 36 inches of snow to the city.

On Tuesday morning, things looked quite a bit brighter. The city received far less than a foot of snow. In most places the inches of snowfall didn't even break the single digits. And so it was, a snow day without too much snow.

NYC has a long history of under reacting and over reacting to weather conditions. When government officials under react they generally lose some face. When they over react, the proverbial political storm blows over.

And so it was on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 that Queens enjoyed an unscheduled day off, with all the shopping done.

Battle For Public School Budget Underway

Constitutional Right To Education & Public School Funding

queens schoolsJanuary 12, 2015 / Jackson Heights / Queens Schools / Queens Buzz News & Analyis. I attended a Town Hall Meeting entitled State Of Our Schools at PS 69 in Jackson Heights on Thursday evening. The town hall included a number of panelists who spoke about some of the top concerns and issues facing NYC and Queens public schools in the current round of budget negotiations currently underway in the NYS state capitol of Albany.

Cathy Nolan, NYS Assembly Chair of the Committee on Education, and Daniel Dromm, Chair of the NYC Council Education Committe, were joined by speakers representing The Alliance for Quality Education, Make The Road NY, Jackson Heights People For Public Schools, Community Education Council 30 and the Parent Association of PS 69.

The intent of the town hall was to inform residents about the issues currently being debated in the NYS State Capitol as the Assembly and Senate work on budget bills to fund public education in the state of New York.

Some of the issues discussed included every citizen's constitutional right to a quality public education, which was interpreted by the Courts to mean providing every citizen with the skills to compete in the 21st century economy and the capacity to function as a contributing member of society.

Other issues included discussion of the current tax cap bill - which would cap property taxes at 2.5% - and thus limit the money available for public education. Currently about 30% of NYC residents are property owners. Over the past decade an increasing percentage of city property has been acquired by large corporations known as Real Estate Investment Trusts. It's worth noting that one of the NYC tabloids, the NY Daily News, is owned by the billionaire founder of an NYC Real Estate Investment Trust.

Property owners say they already pay too much in taxes. One homeowner opined that government and school officials need to manage the funding more efficiently, and develop innovative / technological methods to achieve their educational goals. Many of the older, original charter schools were opened to do just that by exploring different approaches to educating the public.

Another initiative underway is to cap charter schools expansion. As mentioned above, many of the original charter schools were founded to explore different approaches to providing a quality public school education. In recent years some of the newer charter schools, particularly the charter school groups [Ed Note: such as Success Academy Charter Schools], have been seen as limiting the promise of an equal opportunity in public school education.

Charter School groups have been accused of targeting areas where they can attract high performing students away from the publicly run schools and then demand equivalent public funding per child. Charter school groups allegedly claim their test scores are attributable to their educational efforts, not the higher quality of their student enrollment [this alleged claim is at odds with independent studies]. As of this date only a small percentage of the charter schools have been audited as one of them - Success Academy - filed and won a lawsuit that prevented the NYS Comptroller from auditing them based on a NYS Supreme Court Justice Thomas Breslin ruling in June 2013. Its worth noting that Success Academy Charter Schools also reportedly receives funding from Hedge Fund b/millionaires who may also have stakes in Real Estate Investment Trusts.

Public educators note that the schools that service the broader based demographic population have higher per student funding requirements in order to assist students with special needs. They go on to note that standardized testing doesn't account for progress made with a broad based diversified student population that includes students with special needs such as: children with disabilities, children from troubled homes, children with less aptitude or less motivation, and children who need to learn English [English Language Learners ELL] in addition to the general curriculum. Additional resources are required to fund different approaches / programs designed to reach, motivate and develop these children's intrinsic abilities [eg. band students perform higher in math] and enable them to become contributing members to their families, their employers and the community.

A tax break for private education is also being debated at the state level. The tax break for private education was portrayed by one of the speakers as another tax break for those who already have the means and have chosen to send their children to non-public schools. Just as the property tax cap is expected to limit public education funding, so too the private school tax break is expected to limit the total funding available to educate those who attend public schools.

Families who send their children to private schools argue that they are reducing the strain on public school resources. They note that they are not asking for a total reimbursement [meaning total payback of private tuition] but rather a deduction, which would reduce their tax bill by some percentage of their private school tuition payments. It's worth mentioning that according to the 2012 Census update, the NYC Public School system paid over $20,000 per student per year, which is a far higher cost per student than any other public school system in the nation. The Boston public school system was a close second and the Washington DC public school system came in third.

This is just a summary of some of the challenges and issues discussed at the Town Hall related to NYS public school education funding. We'll delve into these in a bit more detail at a later date.

Air Beam: What Are You Breathing?

Adventurous Bike Ride With TA Queens ... On The Road To Find Out

air beam air quality queens nycNovember 10, 2014 / Queens Neighborhoods / Biking Queens / Queens Buzz. I just returned from a bike ride that began at the Central Park Boathouse and ended in Jackson Heights at 34th Street and the BQE Expressway. Celia Castellan, who is the organizer for Transportation Alternatives Queens [aka TA Queens] collaborated with me on this story which is about Queens & Manhattan air quality and also about biking. Celia is shown in the photo to your right, atop the Queensboro Bridge around 6 pm Monday night as we bike commuted from Manhattan to Queens.

It was a beautiful night with clear, dry air and temperatures around 60. Our mission was to test the Air Beam, a new device designed to enable people to measure the air quality, and then map the information to a public website, so that the public can begin to see what's going on with the air they breathe. The Air Beam is a blue, slightly-larger-than-a-cell-phone device, that you wear to measure the air [quality].

We began the ride in Central Park. We were on our way after receiving only a couple minutes of instruction. The device is brand-spanking new and must be sync'ed to an Android cell phone. The inventors work for a non-profit and are trying to raise a bit of money to mass produce it.

I'm going to take you on the rest of the ride, including a sampling of the air quality readings along the way, and provide some photos of the Queensboro Bridge bicycle commute a bit later this week. In the meantime, check out the Air Casting website and if you want to help, there are a few more days left on their Kickstarter campaign.

Queens Election Results

Cuomo Wins, Avella Retains Seat, Comrie Unseats Smith

September 9, 2014 / Queens Politics / Queens Buzz. NYS Senator Tony Avella defeated challenger former NYC Comptroller and NYC Mayoral candidate John Liu for the District 11 NYS Senate seat in the primaries on Tuesday. John Liu was backed by the Queens Democratic party because of Avella's independent streak.

Leroy Comrie handily defeated incumbent Malcolm Smith for the District 14 NYS Senate seat by a margin of 3:1. NYS Senator Toby Stavitsky defeated challenger S. J. Jung by 15 percentage points, although Jung beat expectations by capturing the lion's share of the ethnic Asian vote [Jung is Korean].

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey defeated challenger Dmytro Fedkowskyj by a margin of 3:1 for the Assembly District 30.

And Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul both garned in the neighborhood of 60% of the votes defeating their challengers. The challengers significantly beat expectations by capturing in the neighborhood of 40% of the votes. Neither challenger was well known and neither had much in the way of funding or large voting block support.

Tuesday - Primary Elections

The Real 'Choice' Is In The Primaries

primary elections queens poll locator placesSeptember 8, 2014 / Queens Politics / Queens Buzz. Tuesday, September 9th, is an important election day as most Queens races are decided at that time given the borough of Queens is comprised of about 80% - 90% Democrats.

On Tuesday the polls open at 6 am and close at 9 pm for the primary elections for New York state and federal offices. The polls are primarily staffed by civic volunteers.

There are a few races of interest this primary season. Leroy Comrie is hoping to win the NY Senate seat of embattled Democrat Malcolm Smith after stepping down as Queens Deputy Borough President earlier this year. And John Liu is hoping to make a comeback after a poor showing in the NYC Mayoral election last year, by unseating incumbent Democrat NY Senator Tony Avella.

The number of people who vote in the primaries is about 10 - 25% of the electorate, generally ending up on the lower end of that range. Hence, every vote carries far more weight than in the general election.

Knowing who the candidates are, what they really stand for and voting for them is one of the key pillars of our democracy. Many of our ancestors died fighting for this right and almost all of our early American ancestors took great risks to come here to exercise that right.

One of my favorite quotes of Thomas Jefferson is, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free . . . it expects what never was and never will be".

I know you're busy with all kinds of other responsibilities. But I hope you'll do your best to stay informed about who the candidates are and make the effort to vote for those who best represent your point of view. It's a small investment to make to ensure we maintain our rights and freedoms. You needn't look far around the world to see what life is like in places that don't enjoy the right to elect / choose those who govern them.

Click here to find your Queens polling place - and again polls are open from 6 am - 9 pm.

Making Vision Zero Happen

Corona Residents Respond To Call To Action

vision zero corona jackson heights queens vision zero vision 0July 27, 2014 / Jackson Heights & Corona Neighborhood / Queens Issues / Queens Buzz. I attended a Vision Zero Workshop at the Corona Library on July 16th. The event was sponsored by Transporation Alterantives in conjunction with a host of other organizations and some local government officials, all of whom I will name at the end of this story when I complete it.

As you can see from the photo, there was no shortage of interest in the effort, as Jackson Heights and Corona are one of the 'Ground Zero' places where pedestrians are being killed or injured by motorists.

The effort had a number of components to it including education, law enforcement and untangling a road, biking and pedestrian system that was put together piecemeal instead of as a holistic approach to human movement ... like dance.

We'll post more about this at a later date including photo slide show.

High School Directories Now Available

July 31, 2014 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Schools / Queens Buzz. Students applying to a NYC public high school for the 2015-2016 school year can now access the 2014-2015 High School Directory online in nine languages: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.
Click here for complete information and the English directory. Questions regarding the 2014-2015 High School Directory may be directed to the High School Admissions Team at HS_Enrollment@schools.nyc.gov. 

Queens Library Reform Bill:  Quality & Controversy | queens library queens libraries
Queens Library Reform Bill: Quality & Controversy

A Trojan Horse: Queens Library Reform Bill

NYS Senator Ushers Bill Through Assembly Calling For Czar-Like Control Of Queens Library Trustees

In Whose Best Interest Is This ... Really?

June 12, 2014 / Queens Education / Op Ed Queens / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz / By Michael Wood & Edited by Patrick Wood.

This report goes behind the fanfare and political posturing that have gone on the past few months, and looks at the issues surrounding legislation that is currently working its way through the New York legislature. It also compares the legislation to a similar prior bill which was passed into law less than a year ago. And ultimately we provide rationale for intelligently asking whether this legislation is a political play or good for the Queens Library and its constituents. The report contains links to our Queens Opinion section which contains the comments of two informed sources who have been following the controversy from different vantage points.

Click here to read our report on the Queens Library Reform Bill: Quality & Controversy.

July 4th Fireworks Queens & Weekend

4th of July Fireworks Return To East River

4th of july fireworis in queensJuly 4th, 2014 / Things To Do Queens / Queens Buzz.

Weather. Not ideal for fireworks. Friday it will be in the high 70's with about 65% humidity all day. Rain will hit between 3 & 4 pm and thereafter - until about 10 pm - there's a 50% chance of it. So for the fireworks display it's a 50 / 50% chance you may get wet.

For the rest of the weekend, the highs will climb to the mid 80's and it will be sunny and dry Saturday, with humidity climbing back to 50 - 65% Sunday.

Macy's 4th of July fireworks in Manhattan NYC. The Macy's 4th of July fireworks will likely begin around 9.30 pm which is when it gets dark enough to support a good show. But that said, you should probably get to where you're going to watch them no later than 9 pm, because the cloudy skies may allow them to get off to an early start.

Best Locations to view Macy's 4th of July fireworks in Queens NYC. There will be three barges in the East River from where the fireworks will be launched - two just south of the Brooklyn Bridge and one just north of it. The best viewing locations would be in and around the bridge including the South Street Seaport. But spots along the East River should allow for a pretty fair view, including Gantry State Park and Hunters Point South.

We'll post weekend events later today and Saturday.

Summer Solstice & Great Weekend

summer in nyc photosJune 23, 2014 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz. It was one of the near perfect weekends. The sun was shining, but not too hot and the air was warm and dry during the day and cool at night.

It was also the summer solstice - the longest day of the year - that point in the calendar from which the amount of daylight will begin to shrink. This was not lost on the general population as folks were out and about enjoying the weather.

There were sunbathers along the East River at Astoria Park and Gantry Park. And lots of sun worshippers in between. Make Music NY organized about 1,000 performances throughout the city, including quite a number of them in Queens. I hope you had a nice weekend and wish you the best in the coming week.

Fireworks Commemorate 50th Anniversary

flushing fireworks photos 2014May 19, 2014 / Flushing / Queens History / Queens Buzz. I attended the fireworks display in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Sunday night. There were thousands there to view them standing in front of the New York State Pavilion [see photo at right].

The fireworks were part of a day long program of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World's Fair. The program included a rare opportunity to walk through the NYS Pavilion and a bandshell had been set up to accommodate the musicians, which included a group playing Beatles tunes and the pre-fireworks celebration ended with the Queens Symphony Orchestra playing the Stars & Stripes.

We'll post a slide show of the fireworks and the crowds, most of which appeared to be from surrounding neighborhoods. Several Manhattanites did make the journey as I met a couple on the subway.

Tax Prep Down To The Last Minute

tax preparation services in queensApril 15, 2014 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. As I made may way home late Tuesday night, on a miserably rainy evening, I couldn't help but notice that a tax preparation office was bustling with activity [see photo].

It was April 15th, the last day for posting one's taxes without having to file for an extension. And there in the offices of a local tax preparer were easily a half dozen people who appeared to be waiting to meet with a tax specialist in order to complete their 2014 taxes.

As in the past I've been in this situation myself, I am not making any judgments about waiting until the last minute. Just happy, I guess, that this year I actually beat the crowd.

The same thing happened with the Affordable Care Act applications [see story below], as over one million people filed their applications in the last week. I guess we're all getting used to doing things in 'real time'.

Snowstorm Blankets Queens & NYC

queens neighborhoods weatherFebruary 3, 2014 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz. Around 4 am this morning, the light drizzly rain that began falling late in the evening, turned to snow. The snow kept coming in a slow steady stream and as of about 1 pm Queens & NYC had received between three and five inches of snow. The National Weather Service is predicting that we will receive between five and eight inches of snow.


Alternate side parking has been suspended as have trash pickup and recycling operations. After school sports and activities have also been cancelled. Traffic conditions aren't good and the snow advisory is in effect until about 7 pm.

Weird Weather & Implications

weather in queensStarting The New Year In A Regenerative State Of Mind

January 7, 2014 / Queens Buzz. The end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 share at least one thing in common - unusual weather patterns. Over the holidays we went from unseasonallly warm weather to the frigid temperatures normal for the season [teens to 20's] and back again a couple of times.

In late December and early January we've witnessed a zig zag weather pattern of warm / cold / warm / cold. As you can see in the time series photos to your right, we experienced snow on December 14th. Temperatures sank into the 20's. The snow completely disappeared just prior to the Christmas holiday.

On December 22nd, we found Smidge and Dallow playing in Sunnyside as folks were walking by without coats. The temperatures were in the 60's.

The new year began with temperatures in the teens and 20's and the snow returned on January 3, 2014 as the area received between 6 and 11 inches [Ozone Park].

Less than two days later on January 5th, 2014 we experienced a new high for the day of 70 degrees. It seems Florida has less appeal when it's 70 degress up here.

Today temperatures are in the teens and for the week temperatures are expected to climb from the teens into the 50's by Saturday, although there will be more cold days along the way.

So what to make of it? It would seem global climate change is very much a possibility. To completely deny that 7 billion humans, who occupy a third of the planet [land], have cut down billions of trees and put billions of tons of fossil fuel exhaust into the air over the past century, is to deny one of the most likely causes of the changing weather.

In the short term, during the winters, it's nice to have 70 degree days. But in the summer when the tempatures rise to the high 90's for days on end, it's far less appealing.

It seems we can expect that the seasonal temperatures will become less marked - as we no longer see the lows of the past during winter, and we're starting to see new highs in the summer. Over time it will just get warmer and warmer and warmer.

The rising temperatures will disrupt the eco system and those disruptions include an impact on our food supply. And as we know from history, this is when people start fighting.

We need to begin treating our planetary eco-system like a farmer treats his soil. In days of old, farmers would plant the same crops over and over and deplete the soil of it's minerals. The crop yield would decline as the minerals were depleted. In time science taught the farmers to rotate the crops in order to replenish the minerals to the soil. I think in some fashion we need to take a similar approach to our eco-system. We can't keep taking from it without also nuturing it or we will deplete it.

So what to do? As individuals this means transitioning toward a greener lifestyle. And leaning on government officials and businesses to do the same. Each of us can make a difference because problems like this are cumulative where lots of little bits add up to billions and trillions of bits.

The cumulative nature of things is how we got into this situation in the first place. Thus, by working to do our bit as individuals, we can also cumulatively change it before the implications of these changing weather patterns becomes a crisis of epic proportions.

Can one person change the world? Yes ... and although we might not have the personal power of a human being like Mahatma Ghandi - quietly and cumulatively we can all make a difference.

How you can help. Pick one or more items from the following is a list of some things you can do to help preserve the ozone layer / planetary eco-system: 1) recycle your garbage, which most New Yorkers are required to do already, 2) walk, bike or use public transit when you can, 3) use a high gas mileage vehicle, 4) invest in solar power for your home [click link for info about tax breaks], 5) improve insulation in your home for less energy consumption in both winter & summer, 6) buy energy efficient appliances like air conditioners, 7) use blinds, curtains, shades to keep your home cooler in the summer, 8) use sweaters to lower the use of heat in the winter, and 9) shop and buy local because it requires less of a carbon footprint to produce / ship and it's good for the local economy. Every little bit helps.

MTA Rush Hour Power Outage

#7 Subway Line Down For Hours

#7 subway line public transit in queensDecember 10, 2013 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz. What's wrong with this picture? There aren't any subways running on these tracks during rush hour on Tuesday evening.

The #7 subway is the busiest single subway in NYC and it's the second busiest subway line, after the 4, 5, 6 line that runs north and south along the east side of Manhattan.

According to an attendant there was a power outage along the entire line beginning around 5 pm Tuesday, which was partially repaired within several hours. The trains were running limited service by about 9 pm Tuesday due to ongoing signal problems at a few stations. The MTA expects to have the #7 subway back into full operations by rush hour Wednesday morning, but be prepared.

Ironically this outage comes only weeks after the MTA spent two months of weekends [October / November] doing upgrades / maintenance work on the #7 subway line. It's also worth mentioning that the #7 subway line was one of the last of the major lines to go back into operation following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The reason for the delay in resumption of service in 2012 was that they couldn't turn on the power because of flooding in the tunnels.

I wonder if any of these issues / activities are related, and what the MTA is doing to address them?

Ridership on the #7 subway line is expected to continue growing because of the significant amount of real estate development going on in the Long Island City and Flushing neighborhoods of Queens. Lagging infrastructure development could hamper growth. Queens Borough President-elect Melinda Katz stated that this would be one of her top priorities upon assuming the office. It seems this might be a good place to start.

NYC Cyclists Rights - Bicycle Laws NYC & NYS - NYC Bike Laws | nyc bicycle laws queens cyclists rights nyc queens laws pertaining to cycling in nyc queens
NYC Cyclists Rights - Bicycle Laws NYC & NYS - NYC Bike Laws

Cyclists Rights In NYC / Queens

Knowing Your Rights & Responsibilities As An NYC Cyclist

Updated Spring 2015 / Long Island City Neighborhood / NYC Cylists Rights In Queens / Queens Buzz. By Philip Papas. The introduction to the Cyclists' Rights Forum was given by Christina Vassallo, Executive Director, Flux Factory. She told us that the event came about after she and a friend were stopped for cycling violations, which they thought were not illegal, or had erroneously been applied as violation points to their motor vehicle driver’s license. As a result she saw the need for a forum to clarify laws, rights and proper procedures for cyclists to follow.

Click here to read our full report about NYC Bike Laws / Cyclists' Rights Forum in Queens at the Flux Factory in LIC.

Obamacare Comes To Queens | obamacare comes to queens obamacare in queens ny astoria lic sunnyside woodside flushing jackson heights flushing corona jamaica ny
Obamacare Comes To Queens

Affordable Care / Obamacare Comes To Queens

Queens Prepares For The Affordable Healthcare Act

November 13, 2013. Update - Over 197,000 New Yorkers Have Completed Applications of which over 48,000 have already selected and enrolled in a plan. Over 142,000 people were helped by the New York State of Health which runs the health plan marketplace for New York State. Note that open enrollment for the tax year 2014 ends on March 31, 2014.

November 7, 2013 / Astoria Neighborhood / Healthcare in Queens / Queens Buzz. I just returned from the United Civic Community Association [UCCA] sponsored forum on Obamacare at the Museum of the Moving Image. The forum did a nice job of providing what appeared to be a good summary look into what the federal government’s Affordable Healthcare Act [also known as Obamacare] is really all about.

The forum was moderated by Rose Marie Poveromo, President of the United Community Civic Association of Astoria and included a panel of experts. The panel included U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley, Rebecca Jackson, a NY State of Health Project Coordinator, Caryn Schwab Executive Director of Mount Sinai Queens, Judy Trilivas Chief Operating Officer of Mount Sinai Queens and Minna Elias Congresswoman Maloney’s Chief of Staff. They are shown seated from left to right in the photo above, at the UCCA hosted Obamacare Forum at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

Click here to read more about Affordable Care / Obamacare comes to Queens.

Queens Neighborhoods Directory

Click on the following links to go directly to a specific Queens neighborhood or a specific Queens News section:

Halloween Parties In Queens | halloween parties in queens astoria lic long island city woodside queens halloween parties jackson heights sunnyside flushing corona jamaica ny halloween parties nyc
Halloween Parties In Queens

Halloween Parties Queens 2015

Halloween Parties in Astoria, LIC, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights & Flushing


October 8, 2015 / Queens Buzz. Fun Parties Open To Public In Queens

There are a lot of parties planned for the Halloween Weekend of 2015. Costume Parties and Live Music for adults, and parades and parties for the kids. This report will provide you with a sampling of party opportunities around the borough of Queens on Halloween Weekend 2015, which is only seven weekends away.

In the photo to your right is a scene from the Halloween party at Cavo Astoria a few years back. Click here to read about Halloween Parties In Queens 2015.

Jackson Heights Beautification Group - JHBG | jackson heights beautification group jhbg jackson heights neighborhood
Jackson Heights Beautification Group - JHBG

JHBG Celebrates 25 Years Of Service

Jackson Heights Beautification Group Celebrates 25

September 30, 2013 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Queens Issues / Queens Buzz News. I had the pleasure of spending some time at the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group’s existence. During the course of the evening I had the opportunity to talk to a number of members, many of whom had been with the organization for decades. And during the course of these conversations I came away having learned something about their collective accomplishments, and in some senses, the early to modern history of Jackson Heights.

Some of the JHBG's Accomplishments

The Jackson Heights Beautification Group [also known as JHBG] started when a group of residents decided to 'take back the neighborhood' from vandals doing property damage [grafitti], real estate developers knocking down high quality edwin westley photo jhbg jackson heights beautification grouphistoric buildings, people breaking sanitation laws [doggie doo], and developers trying to obtain zoning variances that would downgrade the neighborhood. But the community organization was not just about participating in the governance process and ensuring that the city laws and ordinances were enforced; they also sought to enhance the quality of neighborhood life.

Hence the Jackson Heights Beautification Group sought funding for summer concerts, helped bring a farmers market to Jackson Heights, worked collaboratively to create more public parkland [78th Playstreet & the Garden School Athletic Field], and most recently helped start an orchestra. They will be the first to tell you that they didn't do these things by themselves, but however modest, they did play an important role.

In the photo above City Councilmember Daniel Dromm gives an award to Jackson Heights Beautification Group President Edwin O'Keefe Westley honoring the neighborhood group's service to the community.

And so you may click here to learn a bit about the formation and history of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, as well as a bit about the 20th century life in Jackson Heights as told by those who lived it.

Queens Borough President Election 2013 | queens boro prez primary 2013 vallone katz sept 2013 - feb 28, 2014 - 886 / mar 28, 2014 985 - added cash out & BB foot
Queens Borough President Election 2013

Queens Borough President Election

Democratic Party Hierarchy & NYC Developers Back Katz & Quinn

September 9, 2013 / Queens Politics / Queens News Analysis & Issues / Opinion / Queens Buzz. So after answering countless annoying and largely uninformative robocalls from those seeking to govern us [what happened to our ability to 'Opt Out' of telemarketing?], and receiving voluminous junk mailers, tomorrow we get to decide who's going to govern us.

Tomorrow matters, because about 80% of the elections in NYC are decided in the primaries.

In the photo above right, Peter Vallone takes Melinda Katz to task for sending out mailers that attempt to demonize him with distorted visuals and labels.

NYC Mayoral Candidates - Final Polls & Agendas & You Decide

There are five major candidates running for Mayor on the Democratic side [de Blasio, Quinn, Weiner, Thompson & Liu] and two on the Republican side [Lhota & Catsimatidis]. The most recent polls show DeBlasio well ahead of the pack, but he needs 40% of the vote to avoid having a runoff election later in the month. Thompson is the runner up and Quinn, once the leading candidate, is running a distant third.

mike bloomberg abuses quinnQuinn has sometimes been referred to as Mayor Bloomberg's lapdog because of her 'dogged' support of his agenda. In spite of that moniker, the Mayor did not endorse her even though she had helped Bloomberg reverse a plebiscite on municipal office term limits and passed the majority of his agenda. Both Quinn and Katz did win the endorsement of the Democratic Party hierachy and the monied support of NYC real estate developers.

Runoffs Weaken Mayoral Candidates

The last time we had an open NYC Mayoral election [meaning no incumbents] it resulted in a Democratic primary runoff. Fernando Ferrer won the primary with 279,000 votes [35.5%]. Mark Green won enough votes [243,000 votes] to compete in a runoff. In the runoff Mark Green prevailed, and then went on to lose against Michael Bloomberg by 35,000 votes. A hotly contested Democratic primary runoff weakens the Democratic candidate shortly before the final election.

Queens Borough President Candidates 2013

There are three Democrats running for Queens Borough President [Vallone, Katz & Brown] and one on the Republican side [Arcabascio]. Tony Avella is on the ballot, but he has dropped out of the race.

There are also a number of City Councilmember races, which we don't have the time to discuss today.

Click For More About Queens Borough President Candidates 2013

Click here to read more about the NYC Primary Elections, with more about the backgrounds of the Queens Borough President candidates, and including a link to find your Queens polling place.

Queens Primary Election Results

Katz Wins Boro Prez / de Blasio May Face Runoff

queens boro prez primary resultsSeptember 11, 2013 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics / Queens Buzz. Melinda Katz received nearly 45% of the vote in the race for Queens Borough President. Peter Vallone was the runner up with nearly 34%. Everly Brown captured nearly 13% and Tony Avella whose name was on the ballot, but had dropped out of the race, won 9% of the vote. Katz will go onto face Republican Tony Arcabascio in November.

In the photo to your right, Republican candidate Tony Arcabascio speaks as Peter Vallone, Melinda Katz and Everly Brown listen at the Queens Borough President Forum held at Flushing Town Hall on August 26th.

Bill de Blasio was the winner of the Mayoral primary, but it remains unclear whether he won over 40% of the vote which would preclude any runoff against Thompson who was the runner up with 26% of the vote. Some paper ballots remain to be counted which could sway the tally. Christine Quinn, once the front runner, won only 16% of the vote and Queens' John Liu came in fourth place with 7% and Anthony Weiner netted 5%. On the Republican side Joe Lhota won 53% of the vote, beating out billionaire John Catsimatidis who netted 43%.

As for Queens City Council races, many incumbent candidates went uncontested in the primaries. Paul Vallone appears to have won with 31% of the vote in the 19th District but there could be a runoff. Costa Constatinides handily won the 22nd District [currently Peter Vallone's District] with 56% of the vote. Rory Lancman won the 24th District with 62% of the vote. Ruben Willis won the 28th District with 49% of the vote. Donovan Richards won the 31st District with 52% of the vote. Lew Simon won the 32nd District with 65% of the vote. And Antonio Reynoso won the 34th District with 49% of the vote beating out Vito Lopez. And Daneek Miller is ahead with 24% of the vote in the 27th District.

The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 5th.

Queens News - Queens Neighborhood News | Queens NY News news briefs about queens ny
Queens News - Queens Neighborhood News

MTA Fare Hike This Weekend - Queens

March 9, 2013 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz. The MTA fare hike becomes effective this weekend. Subway and bus rids will rise from $2.25 to $2.50 on a MetroCard and a single purchase fare will rise from $2.50 to $2.75. New cards will cost an additional $1. The monthly card will rise from $104 to $112 and the weekly will rise from $29 to $30. Weekly express bus passes will rise from $50 to $55.

Tolls on the MTA's seven bridges and two tunnels will rise from $6.50 to $7.50 per single pay riders, and from $4.80 to $5.33 for

The funds will raise an additional $450 million per year and help fund operations and infrastructure maintenance.  Click here for other Queens News briefs.

astoria neighborhood

Hell Gate Horror - Halloween Houses in Queens | halloween houses astoria queens hell gate horror halloween astoria queens nyc
Hell Gate Horror - Halloween Houses in Queens

Hell Gate Horror was ... well ... horrifying ..

Neighborhood Halloween House Includes Plenty of Theater & Imagination

October 24, 2015 / Astoria Neighborhood / Ethnic & Religious Culture & Holidays in Queens / Queens Buzz.

It was a hauntingly calm evening as I dared to return to the haunted Hell Gate Horror of Astoria. It was a century ago that the Hell Gate Bridge was nearing completion over the East River and the thought of what happened last year had raised the hair on my back as I approached.

This year I decided to take along a video camera so that what I might miss with my own eyes might be captured in the video. But alas, it was so dark, that even the camera couldn't keep pace with the spirits and ghosts hovering under the Hell Gate Bridge on this haunted horrifying evening.

They say a picture says a thousand words, so with that I'll let you take the journey into the Hell Gate Horror of Astoria yourself. If you click into the story we did last year and compare it to the video this year, you'll see they freshen it up with new themes, back drops and costumes. Boo.

Click here to see the video of the Hell Gate Horror Halloween House of Astoria.


astoria news

Astoria News - News About Astoria NY | astoria news briefs astoria news local astoria websites local astoria blogs astoria ny news
Astoria News - News About Astoria NY

Rewired State @ MOMI

Kids Converge In Astoria To Build Apps

July 1, 2013 / Astoria / Film in Queens / Queens Buzz. On Sunday afternoon I headed down to the Museum of the Moving Image [MOMI] to view the results of a weekend long program at MOMI, entitled Rewired State. The program invited area kids in grade school and high school to spend a good part of the weekend at the museum, building software applications that leveraged datasets made available by various bodies of government.

The kids ranged from very young to ready to go to college. Many of the apps leveraged public datasets into maps, but there were several that went beyond. In the photo to your right are a brother / sister team that built an app showing where many of the graffiti spots are in NYC. Given they only had two days to complete their work, they weren't able to finish it.

We'll have more on this program later. It was a great learning experience for kids - not just in terms of learning how to build software applications - but also how to work on a team.

Click here to go to the Astoria Neighborhood section of this site, or on the photo above for other Astoria News briefs.

We'll have more on this seminar later in the quarter.  In the meantime click here for other Astoria News briefs.

flushing neighborhood

New York State Pavilion - Photos & Opening | new york state pavilion photos & opening nye pavilion opening april 22 2014 may 18 2014
New York State Pavilion - Photos & Opening

The New York State Pavilion Opens For 3 Hours

Philip Johnson's 1964 World's Fair Relic Comes Back To Life

April 22, 2014 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens History / Queens Buzz. The New York State Pavilion was reopened for three hours in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 - 1965 World's Fair ... and thousands came to see it. An announcement that the structure was named to the National Trust For Historic Preservation was made at the opening.

I had an opportunity to view the NYS Pavilion during the three hours it was open on April 22nd 2014. As mentioned above, the date marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 - 1965 World's Fair. The NY State Pavilion was a structure commissioned for the Fair, which was held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The New York State Pavilion was built to honor and celebrate all things of New York State.

The complex encompasses three categorical elements: 1) the three observation decks shown in the background of the photo, 2) the Tent of Tomorrow - the inside from which this photo was taken, and 3) the Theaterama, which is shown in the background on the right. The Theaterama had been converted into Queens Theatre In The Park some time ago, and was renovated in 2008.

Interest in the NYS Pavilion began with a pilot project by the NYC Parks Department in 2007. The project was intended to explore its restoration / restore some of it [urban archeology]. And in 2009 a couple of guys decided they wanted to bring it back to life by [re]painting it. Since then, interest in the NYS Pavilion has been gradually gathering steam. Most recently a film maker crowd sourced funding to make a movie about it. And today it was named into the National Trust For Historic Preservation.

Click here for the story about the NYS Pavilion, including many details and a slide show containing photos of the New York State Pavilion.


flushing news

Flushing & Corona News - Queens NY | Flushing news Corona news LIBDC Annual Trade Show in Flushing Meadows Corona park Terrace In The Park Flushing Chinese New Years Parade Flushing U.S. Open Tennis Arthur Ashe Stadium Queens NY Queens Museum Of Art Flushing
Flushing & Corona News - Queens NY

Moon Parade & The Asian Harvest

September 17, 2013 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens Culture / Queens Buzz. I attended the Moon Parade and celebration in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens. The parade at 5 pm on Saturday at 40th Road and Main Street and was provided a police escort [Main Street is quite busy, even on Saturdays] down to the Queens Botanical Gardens where it ended at the Kissena Park Corridor.

The parade included the moving dragon and other traditional Chinese parade costumes, as well as banner bearers, a marching band and a number of Ninja and Halloween-costumed characters. I met with a couple of the parade participants to find out more about the significance of the Moon Parade.

Essentially it's a Fall Harvest Celebration - Asian style. The moon parade and celebration includes feasting on chicken and pigs and eating traditional Moon Cakes. I found some of these in one of the stores nearby, where the tins, made in Hong Kong, have elaborate artistic renditions of a woman eating a cake with the moon shining brightly outside. The moon cakes are made of lotus paste. Happy Lunar / Moon Harvest.

jackson heights neighborhood corona neighborhood

Mayor de Blasio in Jackson Heights & Schools Chancellor Farina In Jackson Heights | nyc public schools mayor de blasio in queens schools chancellor carmen farina queens public schools testing school crowding queens universal pre k queens schools trailers queens
Mayor de Blasio in Jackson Heights & Schools Chancellor Farina In Jackson Heights

Mayor de Blasio & Chancellor Farina in Queens

Mayor & Chancellor in Queens Town Hall about Public Schools

November 16, 2015 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Queens Public Schools / Queens Buzz.

There was a town hall at PS 69 in Jackson Heights Thursday evening where NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Public Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina talked about what they are doing to reform the NYC public school system to improve both teachers’ and students’ performance.

I arrived a bit late, following the coverage of a gig nearby. There was a small crowd of a couple dozen people waiting to get in because the auditorium had been filled to a standing room only crowd. Over the course of the evening all the folks who waited long enough were able to enter, as I confirmed this with the police contingent on my way out.

As I entered the auditorium they had just completed the presentation portion of the program [I think about a half hour, possibly less] and they were moving on to taking questions and answers from the audience.

I video recorded most of the session, and then edited down as much as I could to shorten the viewing time required to get the gist of what they’ve done and are planning for the future.

All in all it was a very interesting and very informative session. I spoke to quite a few folks after the town hall and generally they were pretty positive, including a number of folks who did not vote for de Blasio. Essentially most believed that the Mayor and Chancellor were trying to correct the failings of the system and that they were taking an intelligent approach. Several mentioned that the Mayor seemed pretty honest in his assessments of things.

For me, one of the most important things I learned tonight, was why getting universal Pre-K was so important. Essentially the thinking goes that the earlier you are able to start working with these kids, the more you will be able to prepare them for school, and hopefully reap the benefits of teaching them the joy of learning throughout their stay in the public school system.

Click here to read our full report including a segmented video about Mayor de Blasio on NYC public schools with Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina and NYC Councilmember Daniel Dromm.


LaGuardia Airport - Airplane Noise - LGA NYNJPA FAA | laguardia airport airplane noise lga nynjpa new york new jersey port authority lag FAA federal aviation administration queens jackson heights nyc
LaGuardia Airport - Airplane Noise - LGA NYNJPA FAA

LaGuardia Airport - Airplane Noise

Jackson Heights, Corona & Queens Voice Concerns Regarding LGA Airplane Noise

FAA Considering Extension of LaGuardia Airport Hours & Other Changes

October 19, 2015 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Queens Issues LaGuardia Airport Noise LGA / Queens Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz.

I attended a town hall meeting about the airplane noise coming from LaGuardia Airport at PS 69 in Jackson Heights. The town hall had been organized by NYS Senator Peralta’s office and the panel of speakers included local government officials and representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] and the New York New Jersey Port Authority [NYNJPA].

Standing Room Only at PS 69

The auditorium was packed and there were people lined up along the walls as well as standing in the back of the auditorium. Airplane noise has emerged as a big issue for Jackson Heights due to a couple of construction projects going on at the airport – both of which will be completed at the end of November.

Cynical Audience Member's Point of View

The timing of the town hall meeting, only six weeks before the construction was to end, led one of the local pundits to cynically suggest that this was merely political theater, rather than an effort to accomplish anything substantive.

There was an earlier town hall meeting organized about two years ago by NYC City Councilmember Dromm, to tackle the problem in its early stages, and while it was happening - not after it was all over - which is what we're close to today.

But that said, these town hall meetings are not just political theater, although inevitably that is some of it, which you will see in the video. And while the immediate problem will subside, we discovered that there a number of efforts either underway or in the planning stages, in which the community has a vested stake in the outcomes.

Not Said In Meeting: Federal Register States That Consideration Is Being Given To Extending LGA's Operational Hours & Slots

In doing follow up research I found a piece on the Federal Register government website that informed me that the FAA is considering changing the operational hours and slots for LaGuardia Airport. This was not discussed at the town hall [click into story for additional detail]. We also found other things that were either scarcely touched upon or not addressed, which we included in this report.

Click here to read the rest of this report about LaGuardia Airport Airplane Noise and the NYNJPA & FAA in Queens. The report includes video presentations, including some audience interaction, and a photo slide show and other information about FAA air traffic changes, airplane noise and what you can do about it.



jackson heights news corona news

Jackson Heights News & Corona News - Briefs | Jackson Heights News briefs Jackson Heights Film and Food festival 2009 canceled Jackson Heights Queens NY
Jackson Heights News & Corona News - Briefs

Passover in Jackson Heights

Kehillat Tikvah Celebrates 5th Passover in Queens

April 1, 2013 / Jackson Heights / Judaism in Queens / Queens Buzz.  On March 26th I attended the fifth annual Kehillat Tikvah Tuesday evening at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Jackson Heights.  This Passover was hosted by Kehillat Tikvah, which is a relatively new community of hope, located in Jackson Heights.  Rabbi Laurie Gold led the evening of festivities.

I arrived around 6 pm as the organizers were finishing up last minute details for the event.  A U shaped table formation in the middle of the large room had been set, and there were containers of warm food laid out along a long table in front of the kitchen.  People within the community were conversing, and without much effort I was drawn into a conversation with the folks sitting next to me. 

Click here to read the rest of our report on the Kehillat Tikvah Passover in Jackson Heights later this month and click here for other Jackson Heights News briefs.

jamaica neighborhood jamaica ny neighborhood

Jamaica JAMS Music Festival - Cultural Collaborative | jamaica jams festival cultural collaborative jamaica queens music scene
Jamaica JAMS Music Festival - Cultural Collaborative

Jamaica JAMS Festival

Queens, The Home Of Jazz, Hits Another High Note

August 16, 2015 / Jamaica Neighborhood / Music Scene in Queens / Queens Buzz.

Two weekends ago I headed down to Jamaica town, to partake in the Jamaica JAMS festival of music, which begins the eve before the big festival day. It was a near perfect summer evening as I ascended from the underground tunnels of the MTA's E train, and up onto the bustling streets of Jamaica, Queens.

I headed west along Jamaica Avenue before turning north at 153rd Street which runs along the eastern side of Rufus King Park. There were plenty of people out and about. I saw parents watching their kids at the playground as they all enjoyed the lazy midsummer evening, there were energetic teenage boys playing spirited half-court games of basketball, and an entire field filled with soccer moms, dads and kids passing, rollling and kicking the ball around. But in the northwest corner of the park, something else was a happenin'.

I crossed the field and came up behind the Jamaica JAMS [Jamaica Arts & Music Summer] audience that had gathered on the lawn and on the chairs facing the JAMS festival stage. Emcee and saxophonist Craig Crawford was conversing with the winner of a dance contest that had just ended [see photo above].

Click here to read more about the Jamaica JAMS musical festival in Rufus King Park, including a short, less-than-two-minute music video with saxaphonist Craig Crawford, followed by vocalist Toni-Ann-Semple.


jamaica news

Jamaica News - Brief Reports About Jamaica NY | jamaica ny news news about jamaica queens news briefs about jamaica queens ny
Jamaica News - Brief Reports About Jamaica NY

King Manor Makes Merry

January 2013 / Jamaica News / Queens Buzz. King Manor Museum hosted some old fashioned holiday festivities just before the Christmas holiday. They set up a workshop in the back room where families and kids could come to create tree decorations out of the materials used back in the days of Rufus King.

We participated in the workshop, making stringers out of popcorn, cranberries and the like.

And click here to read more Jamaica News briefs.

long island city neighborhood lic neighborhood

Transportation Alternatives Queens - TA Queens Tackles 21st Street LIC & Astoria | 21st street lic astoria safety issues traffic on 21st street astoria long island city queens nyc vision zero
Transportation Alternatives Queens - TA Queens Tackles 21st Street LIC & Astoria

TA Queens Tackles 21st Street

Working to Bring Attention & Solutions to Pedestrian-Challenged Crossings On Long Island City & Astoria Streets

October 10, 2015 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Astoria Neighborhood / Traffic Safety Issues Queens / Queens Buzz.

I was invited to attend / witness a Halloween themed street performance by volunteers of Transportation Alternatives Queens [aka TA Queens] to improve pedestrian safety along the 21s Street corridor, which connects Astoria and Long Island City. The street serves as the major conduit inside the Astoria and Long Island City neighborhoods between the RFK / Triborough Bridge and the EK Queensboro Bridge.

As I arrived at 21st Street and 31st Road, I took note that there are public housing projects along the eastern side of the street and a shopping center along the west side of the street, where the group had convened. Since I had come from the east I had to cross 21st Street to meet with the TA Queens petitioners, and making that crossing on a Saturday afternoon supported their cause as this street is challenging to cross at best, and treacherous for youngsters to cross on a simple shopping errand.

The TA Queens volunteers quickly described the problem in a couple of minutes and they made some recommendations for potential solutions - all of which is contained on the full report rendered in both print and on video on the following page. This is a snippet from their release.

"According to data from the New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the New York Police Department, traffic on this mere 1.8 mile stretch of 21st Street between the two bridges [EK Queensboro & RFK Triborough] caused seven deaths and left 102 people with serious injuries from 2002 to 2011. From 2012 to 2015 alone, 105 pedestrians and 34 cyclists have been injured along the corridor."

Click here to learn more about how TA Queens is trying to help the Mayor reach his Vision Zero Queens goal, by identifying safety challenged hotspots along 21st Street in the Long Island City neighborhood & Astoria. We also included several photos of the Haunted Halloween TA Queens volunteers.


long island city news lic news

LIC News / Long Island City News | Le Fooding Subdivision Art Sculpture Center PS1 Queens Is Green Fashion Show LIC Bar Green Space LIC Long Island City things to do LIC Queens NY
LIC News / Long Island City News

New Supermarket - Queens Plaza 2014

August 29, 2013 / Long Island City LIC / Food & Wine / Queens Buzz. In June of this year, Foodcellar & Co inked a deal with Rockrose Corporation on a lease for 14,500 square feet on the ground and subterranean levels near Queens Plaza. The deal appears to be a win for both parties as the Queens Plaza neighborhood is in need of an modern supermarket which will facilitate Rockrose's business and residential real estate sales and rentals into the area. And it is also a win for Foodcellar & Co because Queens Plaza is an emerging business and residential center because of its location with regard to public and private transportation.

The new supermarket will be the second Foodcellar & Co store in Long Island City. The first Foodcellar & Co store was opened in August of 2008 on 47th Road just off Center Blvd. The store recently celebrated its fifth anniversary with an in-store all evening event where they had set up food and beverage booths so customers could sample unique food products around the store.

The new store will be configured a bit differently than the current Foodcellar to suit the tastes of a different area. I spoke to the management team who told me that they expected to be servicing both a business office clientele during the day and a rapidly growing residential population at all times.

Click here to read other brief reports with LIC news.

sunnyside neighborhood woodside neighborhood

Flicks N' Jazz in the Garden - Sunnyside Gardens Park | flicks n jazz in garden sunnyside gardens park tommy stathes animation queens street beat brass band jeff fairbanks wake up! vin cummings jazz musicians queens
Flicks N' Jazz in the Garden - Sunnyside Gardens Park

Flicks N' Jazz in Sunnyside Gardens Park

Flicks N’ Jazz In The Garden Attracts Crowd of Nearly 800

September 28, 2015 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Jazz in Queens / Queens Buzz.

I attended the fifth annual Flicks N' Jazz in the Garden in Sunnyside Gardens Park. In prior years I had written several stories about the film portion of the program, so this year I decided to focus on the new addition to the event moniker … jazz.

Sunnyside is home to quite a number of jazz musicians, and the neighborhood periodically gets to enjoy listening to these talented performers for free or only a few dollars. The Bix Biederbecke concert in August is one such occasion, and the Flicks N’ Jazz in the Garden is another.

In the first year of Flicks in the Garden [2011], Sunnyside Gardens Park had set up the screen in an area near the park entrance. Phil Valenti and the Broken Hearted Blues Band was the first band to play for the Flicks event. They were, in a sense, the warm up band or the preamble for the Flicks in the Garden event. Their bluesy tunes were a big hit with the crowd. Phil Valenti runs Go Natural Health Foods and Juice Bar on Queens Blvd between 45th and 46th Streets.

Click here to read more about Flicks N' Jazz in the Garden & see video of Wake Up! including members of the Street Beat Brass Band.


sunnyside news woodside news

Sunnyside News / Woodside News | Sunnyside News Woodside News news briefs from around the neighborhoods of Sunnyside & Woodside
Sunnyside News / Woodside News

Smidge & Dallow Under The 'L'

Nimble Fingered Trumpet Player With Gravelly Voice & Acoustic Accordion Player

December 23, 2013 / Sunnyside NY / Sunnyside News / Queens Buzz. For the second time in the past six months, I found myself drawn under the vaulted arches of the elevated train along Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, to treat my ears to the seasonal music of Smidge & Dallow. It's been an ad hoc treat as they 'just do it' when the spirit moves them.

Smidge has a gravelly voice that reminds me of the old Louis Armstrong recordings and he's a trumpet player extraordinaire. Folks in Sunnyside may have heard him perform in the annual Bix Beiderbecke concert sponsored by Sunnyside Shines last July.

Dallow is a modest accordion player whose acoustic accompaniment provides a gracious complement to the jazzy tunes & vox vibrations of Smidge. The duo was playing a number of holiday tunes including an old Armstrong hit. They're pretty busy, but always looking for new gigs. They can be contacted via the Facebook page named Matt Dallow Music.

Click here to read more Sunnyside News & Woodside News briefs.

queens news queens news briefs

Queens News - Queens Neighborhood News | Queens NY News news briefs about queens ny
Queens News - Queens Neighborhood News

MTA Fare Hike This Weekend - Queens

March 9, 2013 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz. The MTA fare hike becomes effective this weekend. Subway and bus rids will rise from $2.25 to $2.50 on a MetroCard and a single purchase fare will rise from $2.50 to $2.75. New cards will cost an additional $1. The monthly card will rise from $104 to $112 and the weekly will rise from $29 to $30. Weekly express bus passes will rise from $50 to $55.

Tolls on the MTA's seven bridges and two tunnels will rise from $6.50 to $7.50 per single pay riders, and from $4.80 to $5.33 for

The funds will raise an additional $450 million per year and help fund operations and infrastructure maintenance.  Click here for other Queens News briefs.

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