Restoration of library funding has significant impact for local library users

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  1. Anonymous

    Thanks to all who helped avert this disaster.

    I'm all for public good, but it's hard to support with "exit" economics practiced by the rich.

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Latest News

Wine bar on Center Blvd to open before Christmas
Rob Bralow

Rob Bralow

Nov. 24, By Christian Murray

The owners and employees of Blue Streak Wines & Spirits, located at 47-20 Center Blvd, are just weeks away from opening their wine bar two doors down.

“We are looking to open right before Christmas,” said Rob Bralow, a part owner in the new venture who has been an employee at Blue Streak for nearly five years.

Bralow, who is one of four partners and has been in charge of buying wine at Blue Streak, will be the face of the new bar. The establishment has been named BLVD Wine Bar and will carry at least 40 different wines when it opens—which Bralow is paring down from a list of about 200.

The wine bar aims to offer residents a laid-back atmosphere, while offering mid-priced to high-end wines from across the globe. Bralow said that he—and others with a similar background– will be at the bar to explain the attributes of each individual wine if needed.

The establishment is about 1,500 sq feet with a long bar that can seat about 20 people. There are several tables and chairs that can cater to another 30 people or more. Additionally, there is a back room with space that can be used for events/classes.

The wine bar also has a back patio space, adjacent to Shi, with room for two tables and about eight seats. The owners have yet to get the approvals needed to open it.

BLVD will also offer four wines by the keg. In summer, Bralow anticipates that the wine bar will offer two whites, a rosè and a red. In winter, it will be two whites and two dark reds.

The wine-by-the-keg concept has been around for about five years, Bralow said, and it is a way to offer high quality wines at an affordable price. Bralow said that many wineries are now selling by the keg.

The establishment will offer four craft beers by the bottle as well as champagne and champagne cocktails. In terms of food, there will be artisanal cheeses, fine charcuterie, nuts and flat bread. However, over time it will offer items such as mini sandwiches and chopped salads.

When Blue Streak opened in 2007, it was before Shi and Skinny’s Cantina had arrived.

“It was like a dirt road in front the store, with maybe three buildings that were up. It was a ghost town. And now the area has just exploded,” Bralow said.

When Bralow started at Blue Streak, he said the store offered about 150 wines by the bottle. With the influx of new residents, the store now offers well over 700 different wines.

Stephen Spiller, who opened Blue Streak after spending a significant portion of his career as an attorney and accountant, is the sole owner of Blue Streak. This time he is opening BLVD with Bralow, James Lee (another long-time employee at the wine shop), and a restauranteur who is frequent customer of the wine shop.

Lee has worked at Blue Streak for the past six years after finding a summer job there as a stock boy during his summer break from college. From there he stayed long term. ”I have to admit I am very lucky to be involved in the world of wine,” he said in a statement.

A long-time customer of the store has been Jim Pileski, who co-owners The Burger Garage restaurant on Jackson Avenue with his brother. “When we told Jim that we were thinking about opening the wine bar he said he wanted to be part of it,” Bralow recalls.

Pileski brings restaurant experience to BLVD, while the others wine.

Meanwhile, Bralow was exposed to the wine industry when he worked in public relations. He started a wine blog at around the same time. When his four-year stint in public relations abruptly ended when he was laid off, he applied for a position at Blue Streak.

He said at the wine bar he has got to know many residents.

The wine bar, Bralow said, will be similar. “It will be a place where we know the neighborhood and the neighborhood knows us.”

BLVD

 

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Brazen thieves lift expensive wheels
Audi

Audi (46th Road (btwn. Vernon and 5th Street))

Nov. 23. By Christian Murray

A group of tire and rim thieves have a taste for fancy wheels.

On Tuesday, thieves struck three cars in Hunters Point—an Audi, BMW and Porsche–striping their tires and rims off and leaving their vehicles on blocks.

The police have caught a suspect—after discovering the tires of the Porsche in his car. The Porsche’s tires were removed while it was parked at 5-22 46th Road., according to police. However, the police did not provide much in the way of details since the alleged perpetrator’s records have been sealed.

The BMW was parked on 51st Avenue (btwn. Vernon Blvd and 5th Street) across the street from LIC Living. A reader sent in a photo (see above) of the vehicle on blocks.

The Audi was parked on 46th Road between Vernon Blvd and 5th Street, according to a reader who sent in the photo.

BMW with its tires and rims removed

BMW with its tires and rims removed

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Madera likely to offer sidewalk seating next summer

Madera1

Nov. 21, By Christian Murray

The list of Vernon Boulevard restaurants that will be offering sidewalk seating next summer continues to grow.

Madera, a Cuban restaurant located at 47-29 Vernon Blvd, is the latest establishment to apply for an unenclosed sidewalk café. It is looking to place four tables and 9 seats in front of the restaurant.

The sidewalk café would take up 5 foot 3 inches in room, leaving 9 feet 9 inches clear for pedestrians, according to a representative of Madera, who spoke at a Community Board 2 subcommittee meeting,

The wait staff would not need to use the sidewalk to serve guests. Instead they would walk through the entrance area and deliver the food from there.

Should Madera place a table on top of a metal cellar door(s), it is required to secure it underneath—usually by pieces of wood.

Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee recommended that the full board approve the application when it meets for its monthly meeting on Dec. 4.

Pat O’Brien, who is the chairman of the city Services Committee, said the establishment has not run into any problems. “No complaints, clean as a whistle,” O’Brien said.

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Obama’s step-grandmother visits PS/IS 78
From left are, principal Louis Pavone; kindergarten teacher Melanie Gutierrez; Debra Akello, MSOF executive director; Mama Sarah; and Rosela Rasanga, far right, wife of governor of Kogelo, Kenya. (AP Photo/Mama Sarah Obama Foundation, Gerry Gianutsos) Photo: AP

From left are, principal Louis Pavone; kindergarten teacher Melanie Gutierrez; Debra Akello, MSOF executive director; Mama Sarah; and Rosela Rasanga, far right, wife of governor of Kogelo, Kenya. (AP Photo/Mama Sarah Obama Foundation, Gerry Gianutsos)
Photo: AP

Nov. 20, Associated Press with Christian Murray

Barack Obama’s 94-year-old step grandmother Sara Obama paid a special visit to the children of PS/IS 78Q Tuesday.

Sara Obama, who was married to the president’s late grandfather and lives in Kenya, is in the United States to help develop a better healthcare and education system for her western Kenyan Village where the president’s father was raised and is buried.

The event at PS/IS 78 was kept hush-hush to ensure that it didn’t turn into a media event.

“This was the only school in New York that she went to [while here],” PS/IS 78 Principal Louis Pavone said. “I think she is going to one in Washington.”

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New commanding officer appointed to 108 Police Precinct
Capt. John Travaglia

Capt. John Travaglia

Nov. 20, By Christian Murray

A new commanding officer has been appointed to the 108 Police Precinct, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.

Captain John Travaglia, who has spent a significant portion of his career in Queens, will be taking over the command following the departure of Capt. Brian Hennessy.

This will be Travaglia’s first time as a commanding officer. He was most recently the executive officer at the 114th Precinct that covers Astoria. Prior to that, he was an executive officer of the 104th Precinct that covers Maspeth, Middle Village and Ridgewood.

Travaglia takes the top job at a time when there has been an uptick in burglaries and other property-related crime in the precinct.  However, Astoria too has seen a jump in burglaries and other property-related crime.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said that he has scheduled a meeting with Travaglia and has heard good things about him. “We look forward to meeting him as we all work to keep the neighborhood safe.”

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City Harvest to package 225,000 pounds of food to deliver to shelters

cityharvestNov. 19, By Michael Florio

There is no shortage of residents looking for a hearty meal these days and one organization is looking to provide the hungry with some relief this winter.

City Harvest, a food rescue organization, will host its second annual 24-Hour Repackathon tomorrow in Long Island City, with the mission of delivering food to the hungry during the holiday season.

The event will take place at 55-02 2nd Street where hundreds of volunteers will aim to package more than 225,000 pounds of donated food—which will then be distributed to families and shelters across the city.

The volunteers will be given 24-hours to pack the food and will work in 3-hour shifts.

The event started last year as a way for City Harvest to package the donated food and increase awareness of poverty. Last year, 215,000 pounds of food was packaged in 24 hours.

The food will be delivered to more than 500 soup kitchens and food pantries, and will be enough to feed more than 2,100 families.

Samantha Park, the communications manager at City Harvest, said that the majority of the end recipients are from working families.

“There is usually at least one person in the family working full time,” she said. “With the expensive cost of living and other expenses, it is really difficult.”

Park said that one-in-five New Yorkers now live in poverty.

Park said that City Harvest tries to focus on gathering fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables. The organization also receives a large supply of canned/sealed food, such as peanut butter and tuna fish, which has a long shelf life.

“This food is very nutritious,” she said.

Park said that the group has enough volunteers for tomorrow’s event.

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President of Dutch Kills Civic Association suddenly leaves, differences over bicycles
Rendering of proposed corrral

Rendering of proposed corrral

Nov. 19, By Michael Florio

The president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association has abruptly left the organization.

Dominic Stiller, who became president of the civic association in January 2013, alerted the organization of his resignation last Monday with a letter to the board.

Stiller’s resignation was based on differing views toward bicycles.

The organization recently held a vote where its members agreed to oppose the placement of bicycle corrals in the Dutch Kills neighborhood if they led to the removal of parking spaces.

Earlier this year, Stiller called for a bicycle corral to be placed in front of his restaurant–Dutch Kills Centraal–located at 38-40 29th Street. His proposal, which he presented to full Community Board 1 in October, would have created room for up to eight bicycles–as well as two planters– but would have removed one parking space.

Community Board 1 voted against the proposal, stating that Stiller didn’t have enough community support.

Stiller said it was not Community Board 1’s denial of his bicycle corral that led him to resign. Instead, it was the vote held by the Dutch Kills Civic Association to kill the concept.

Stiller said the association is more concerned about keeping all the street spaces exclusively for car owners. In his letter he called this view “short sighted and unsustainable,” claiming that it is not working for the greater good.

“There is a recent awareness in the city and country about the importance of providing livable streets… and encouraging alternative forms of green commuting and transport,” Stiller wrote in his departure letter.

“I wish the Dutch Kills Civic had an interest and awareness and open mind to lead or at least support this cultural change locally; it doesn’t,” he wrote.

The new president Thea Romano said the Dutch Kills Civic Association is not opposed to bicycles and noted that the organization has supported bicycle lanes in the past. However, she said, the members are interested in preserving parking spaces.

“We have been fighting for parking for many years,” Romano said. “Whenever there is new construction project, we always request that there is a parking plan put in place.”

“There is a very limited amount of parking space in this community,” Romano said. Therefore, “when he came forward [in April] and said he wanted to take a space away, the board let him know that we weren’t with him.”

Stiller’s term as president was up on December 31st, but he had initially planned on maintaining a position on the board. Now, he said, he will find other ways to improve Dutch Kills.

“Thank you for working with me as president of the DKCA, I hope my resignation from the presidency and the board provides certain awareness to my commitment to alternative progressive methods of urban quality of life improvements. As Dutch Kills moves into the 21st century, these changes will be inevitable,” Stiller concluded the letter.

Romano claims that the association’s vote was not against Stiller’s bicycle corral but to preserve parking. However, she believes Stiller took the matter too personally.

“A lot of the stuff that he has been putting out there is just not true. He is putting such an awful light on the Dutch Kills Civic Association,” she said. “He took it very personally, that’s what it comes down too. One hundred percent.”

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Two businesses about to leave Vernon Blvd., casualties of impending rent hikes

vernon boulevard 002

Nov. 18, By Christian Murray

The business body count is continuing to mount on Vernon Blvd—as two commercial tenants are getting ready to leave.

The Institute for Face & Body Solutions and LIC Chiropractic will be moving out of 47-12 Vernon Blvd in upcoming months. The building is about to be sold and they have been told that they should be prepared to leave.

The owner, who runs the beauty shop, said that she is a middle of negotiating a new space nearby. Meanwhile, Dr. Angelo Ippolito, the owner of LIC Chiropractic, has already found space on 47th Avenue, just around the corner.

The owner of the beauty shop said that the combined rent (of both the beauty shop and LIC Chiropractic) will most likely double to $9,000 per month.

The loss of the two businesses adds to the carnage on Vernon Blvd in the past 18 months—with the closure of Cranky’s Cafe/1682 French Louisiana, Communitea, Papo Fried Chicken, Mario’s Deli and the impending closure of the Chinese restaurant New City Kitchen Express.

“The rents are very high and it is very difficult for your typical business to make money,” said Rick Rosa, the managing director for Douglas Elliman’s Long Island City office. “Unless a business is filling a niche it can be very tough.”

Meanwhile, at 47-12 Vernon, two of the four apartments upstairs have already been vacated.

vernon boulevard 003

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LIC Landing to put up an enclosure, to be open all winter

02

Nov. 17, By Christian Murray

Fancy a winter coffee with waterfront views.

LIC Landing by Coffeed, which is located by the water at Hunters Point South Park, plans to enclose its space this winter providing its patrons with protection from the elements.

“We want to make the park more of a destination—a draw for both tourists and residents throughout the year,” said Frank ‘Turtle’ Raffaele, the chief executive of Coffeed. “After all, this is the Central Park of Queens.”

Raffaele is currently receiving quotes for the enclosure—which would be constructed of glass or Plexiglass. He hasn’t decided whether it will be a 400 sqft. enclosure placed directly in front of the pick-up window (catering to about 40 people) or whether it will be 1,200 sqft. and cover the entire canopy area (catering to as many as 200 people).

LIC Landing will be serving its full menu—which includes coffee, tea, wine, beer, pastries, burgers and salads—over the winter months and there will be waiter service for those who request it.

Raffaele aims to have the enclosure up by Christmas, once the New York City Parks Department has signed off on it. In future years, he would put it up in October and then take it down in mid March.

“We want to be open 365 days where we can serve customers as well as the ferry traffic,” Raffaele said. “This is a big win for Long Island City,” he said.

The Long Island City community has been a large driver behind Raffaele’s decision to stay open.

He said that the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, a group that plans events and oversees neighborhood parks, as well as the Hunters Point Civic Association wanted him to do it, as well as several of his customers.

“Even if I break even or lose a bit of money that’s OK,” Raffaele said. “We are serving our customers.”

Furthermore, he said, many of his employees will be able to work all year round.

LICLanding1

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More Headlines

President of Dutch Kills Civic Association suddenly leaves, differences over bicycles
Rendering of proposed corrral

Rendering of proposed corrral

Nov. 19, By Michael Florio The president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association has abruptly left the organization. Dominic Stiller, who became president of the civic association in January 2013, alerted the organization of his resignation last Monday with a letter to the board. Stiller’s resignation was based on differing views toward bicycles. The organization recently held a vote where its members agreed to oppose the placement of bicycle corrals in the Dutch Kills neighborhood if they led to the removal of parking spaces. Earlier this year, Stiller called for a bicycle corral to be placed in front of his restaurant--Dutch Kills Centraal--located at 38-40 29th Street. His proposal, which he presented to full Community Board 1 in October, would have created room for up to eight bicycles--as well as two planters-- but would have removed one parking space. Community Board 1 voted against the proposal, stating that Stiller didn’t have enough community support. Stiller said it was not Community Board 1’s denial of his bicycle corral that led him to resign. Instead, it was the vote held by the Dutch Kills Civic Association to kill the concept. Stiller said the association is more concerned about keeping all the street spaces exclusively for car owners. In his letter he called this view “short sighted and unsustainable,” claiming that it is not working for the greater good. “There is a recent awareness in the city and country about the importance of providing livable streets… and encouraging alternative forms of green commuting and transport,” Stiller wrote in his departure letter. “I wish the Dutch Kills Civic had an interest and awareness and open mind to lead or at least support this cultural change locally; it doesn't,” he wrote. The new president Thea Romano said the Dutch Kills Civic Association is not opposed to bicycles and noted that the organization has supported bicycle lanes in the past. However, she said, the members are interested in preserving parking spaces. “We have been fighting for parking for many years," Romano said. "Whenever there is new construction project, we always request that there is a parking plan put in place.” “There is a very limited amount of parking space in this community,” Romano said. Therefore, “when he came forward [in April] and said he wanted to take a space away, the board let him know that we weren’t with him.” Stiller’s term as president was up on December 31st, but he had initially planned on maintaining a position on the board. Now, he said, he will find other ways to improve Dutch Kills. “Thank you for working with me as president of the DKCA, I hope my resignation from the presidency and the board provides certain awareness to my commitment to alternative progressive methods of urban quality of life improvements. As Dutch Kills moves into the 21st century, these changes will be inevitable,” Stiller concluded the letter. Romano claims that the association’s vote was not against Stiller’s bicycle corral but to preserve parking. However, she believes Stiller took the matter too personally. “A lot of the stuff that he has been putting out there is just not true. He is putting such an awful light on the Dutch Kills Civic Association,” she said. “He took it very personally, that’s what it comes down too. One hundred percent.”
Two businesses about to leave Vernon Blvd., casualties of impending rent hikes
vernon boulevard 002 Nov. 18, By Christian Murray The business body count is continuing to mount on Vernon Blvd—as two commercial tenants are getting ready to leave. The Institute for Face & Body Solutions and LIC Chiropractic will be moving out of 47-12 Vernon Blvd in upcoming months. The building is about to be sold and they have been told that they should be prepared to leave. The owner, who runs the beauty shop, said that she is a middle of negotiating a new space nearby. Meanwhile, Dr. Angelo Ippolito, the owner of LIC Chiropractic, has already found space on 47th Avenue, just around the corner. The owner of the beauty shop said that the combined rent (of both the beauty shop and LIC Chiropractic) will most likely double to $9,000 per month. The loss of the two businesses adds to the carnage on Vernon Blvd in the past 18 months—with the closure of Cranky’s Cafe/1682 French Louisiana, Communitea, Papo Fried Chicken, Mario’s Deli and the impending closure of the Chinese restaurant New City Kitchen Express. “The rents are very high and it is very difficult for your typical business to make money,” said Rick Rosa, the managing director for Douglas Elliman’s Long Island City office. “Unless a business is filling a niche it can be very tough.” Meanwhile, at 47-12 Vernon, two of the four apartments upstairs have already been vacated. vernon boulevard 003
LIC Landing to put up an enclosure, to be open all winter
02 Nov. 17, By Christian Murray Fancy a winter coffee with waterfront views. LIC Landing by Coffeed, which is located by the water at Hunters Point South Park, plans to enclose its space this winter providing its patrons with protection from the elements. “We want to make the park more of a destination—a draw for both tourists and residents throughout the year,” said Frank ‘Turtle’ Raffaele, the chief executive of Coffeed. “After all, this is the Central Park of Queens.” Raffaele is currently receiving quotes for the enclosure—which would be constructed of glass or Plexiglass. He hasn’t decided whether it will be a 400 sqft. enclosure placed directly in front of the pick-up window (catering to about 40 people) or whether it will be 1,200 sqft. and cover the entire canopy area (catering to as many as 200 people). LIC Landing will be serving its full menu—which includes coffee, tea, wine, beer, pastries, burgers and salads—over the winter months and there will be waiter service for those who request it. Raffaele aims to have the enclosure up by Christmas, once the New York City Parks Department has signed off on it. In future years, he would put it up in October and then take it down in mid March. “We want to be open 365 days where we can serve customers as well as the ferry traffic,” Raffaele said. “This is a big win for Long Island City,” he said. The Long Island City community has been a large driver behind Raffaele’s decision to stay open. He said that the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, a group that plans events and oversees neighborhood parks, as well as the Hunters Point Civic Association wanted him to do it, as well as several of his customers. “Even if I break even or lose a bit of money that’s OK,” Raffaele said. “We are serving our customers.” Furthermore, he said, many of his employees will be able to work all year round. LICLanding1
Urban Market opens with promise of competitive prices
2-14 50th Avenue

2-14 50th Avenue

Nov. 14, By Christian Murray Hunters Point’s second supermarket—Urban Market-- opened on 50 Avenue today with the promise of providing residents the lowest prices in the neighborhood. Sam Mujalli, the owner of the 8,000 square foot store, said that his supermarket will provide Foodcellar (which has been the only supermarket in the area since it opened in 2008) with some stiff competition. Mujalli claims that his prices will be between 15% and 18% cheaper than Foodcellar’s. He said that he can provide these low prices since he has 11 supermarkets scattered throughout New York City and can buy in bulk. Furthermore, he said, his family has deep roots-- and connections-- in the industry.
Sam Mujalli

Sam Mujalli

“My family has been in the supermarket business for 45 years,” Mujalli said. “We didn’t just open a store overnight. My grandfather started it and then it went to my father and then me,” he said. Mujalli said that his grandfather opened a tiny store in Detroit before moving to New York and setting up a small store in Brooklyn. The family’s first big store was a Met Food in a tough section of the Bronx, he said. “Every two weeks people would come in to the store and take our money,” Mujalli said, as he rolled up his fingers into the shape of a gun. The family no longer owns that store. Mujalli said that 50 percent of the produce he will offer at Urban Market will be organic, with the remainder standard items. “You have to give people a choice,” he said. The store has a large produce department as well as an extensive cheese selection and a gourmet deli. Several elected officials came to the store to offer their support at the opening this morning—such as Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, State Sen. Mike Gianaris and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. Gianaris said the store was needed since there has been a lack of supermarkets in the area for some time. He predicted the supermarket would do well. Meanwhile Mujalli said that he was excited to open in Hunters Point and appreciated the buzz surrounding the opening of the supermarket. “Lots of people have been on Facebook and Instagram in the past two months wondering when we were opening.” urbanmarket2
Darren Aronofsky and Patti Smith to appear at Museum of the Moving Image
SmithNov. 12, By Michael Florio Singer Patti Smith will join director Darren Aronofsky at the Museum of Moving Image next week to screen his film Noah. Smith and Aronofsky will talk about the film and their collaboration following the movie on Monday, November 17, at the museum. Smith will perform her song “Mercy Is,” which is featured in the film. Noah, which premiered last spring, is a based on the Old Testament story and stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson. “Noah is a remarkable cinematic accomplishment, a dazzling epic as well as a thoughtful and very timely interpretation of the biblical story,” said David Schwartz, the Museum’s Chief Curator in a statement. “We are thrilled Darren Aronofsky and Patti Smith will be here to discuss the movie, and it will be very special to hear her live performance.” Tickets for the event cost $25 and are currently on sale.
Station LIC on track to open November 17
StationLICphoto1 Nov. 11, By Christian Murray The railroad-themed bar/restaurant that is coming to Hunters Point is on track to open next week. Station LIC, located at 10-37 Jackson Avenue, will be opening on Monday, Nov. 17, according to its owners. Gregory Okshteyn, a co-owner who had originally planned to open the bar/restaurant in spring, said he had to push back the date several times since he had to overcome several obstacles -- such as obtaining a certificate of occupancy to getting the gas turned on. But the main delay, he said, has been his desire for perfection. “We want to show it off in its grandeur,” Okshteyn said. “We are patient and we want to do it right.” A few extra months is not much of a delay in the scheme of things. Okshteyn signed the lease 2 ½ years ago and has spent plenty of time on design and construction since. Okshteyn, who designs bar/restaurants for a living, set his sights on converting the triangular shaped building into a station house from the get-go. The establishment sits directly above the Vernon/Jackson subway station. Okshteyn, who has lived on Center Blvd for the past three years, was able to nab the location by happenstance. He was walking past the site with Rabbi Zev Wineberg, who is in charge of the JCC-Chabad LIC, and suggested to him that it would make for a great place for a bar/restaurant. Rabbi Wineberg just happened to be investigating the location in his quest to find space for a synagogue. He handed Okshteyn a copy of the lease. The building had been empty for the 20 years—although it had been used for the movie ‘Cocktail’ starring Tom Cruise. The location is best known among long-time residents as the home of Blessinger’s, a local watering hole that was there for 50 years (1930s through the 1980s). Okshteyn, who wanted to know about the history of the location, was able to find a Blessinger via Facebook who was able to provide him with some background information. Construction began on the bar/restaurant in January. Okshteyn said that during the demolition phase the first thing he got rid of was the sheet-rock. In doing so, he uncovered the wooden beams, exposed brick walls and iron columns that are now features of the establishment. The bar/restaurant has two levels. The upstairs has capacity for 55 people—including the bar area—and the downstairs has room for 16. In the downstairs hallway, Okshteyn has photos of famous train wrecks that took place in Europe and North America in the past century. The building’s exterior currently features a red light denoting the point of entry to the station. However, Okshteyn has plans to permit artists to paint murals on the outside walls—perhaps on a quarterly basis. He wants to create a place where artists, filmmakers and photographers all feel welcome. The bar/restaurant is likely to offer American bistro-style food such as broccoli Parmesan fritters, fried green olives stuffed with gorgonzola, jalapeno peppers wrapped in bacon along with sandwiches and salads. Larger plates will consist of spice rub roast chicken, fried eggplant Parmesan with smoked mozzarella and its own house burger called the Station Burger that will feature grass-fed beef, maple glazed bacon and pepper jack cheese. However, Okshteyn is looking to offer what will be known as the Ponzi burger. He said the concept is that you get your burger for free under the condition that you buy the next persons. The idea is that you will meet the person who bought you your burger and you will also meet the person who you bought the burger for. “I want people to get to know their neighbors,” Okshteyn said. “I even put the tables close together for this reason.” The venue will be open at 5pm during the week and noon on weekends. The establishment is permitted to open until 2 am. stationLICphoto4use stationlicphoto5
DOT to add protective barriers to Vernon Blvd bike lanes
Jersey barriers

Jersey barriers

The Department of Transportation plans to put up jersey barriers on Vernon Boulevard—from 46th Avenue to 30th Road in Astoria—as a means to protect bicyclists from motorists. The jersey barriers represent another step by the DOT to provide a smooth bicycle connection between the parks in Long Island City and Astoria. The bike lanes on Vernon Blvd – from 46th Ave. to 30th Road-- were redesigned last year, when the DOT created a two-way protected bike lane running along the west side of the street. A buffer of 5 feet– between cars and cyclists--was included. However, Shawn Macias, project manager for the DOT, said that the agency has received feedback since its 2013 redesign that some cyclists want more protection that the existing buffer provides. He said that some motorists use the bike lanes to turn their vehicles around or will even park there illegally. Therefore, Macias said the DOT plans to put up jersey barriers where the 5-foot buffers are currently located. The DOT will not be placing the barriers across the entire strip—just in certain locations Community Board 2 at its monthly meeting Thursday approved the plan. Macias said that since the DOT redesigned the bike lanes in 2013 bicycle and pedestrian traffic has gone up significantly.

2014 10 Vernon Blvd Cb1 Cb2

Capt Brian Hennessy, head of the 108 police precinct, transferred
Captain-Brian-Hennessy1Nov. 6, By Christian Murray The commanding officer of the 108 Police Precinct—which covers Sunnyside, Woodside & Long Island City—has been transferred to head up a larger more crime-ridden Queens precinct. Captain Brian Hennessy, who has spent just 18 months as the commanding officer of the 108, started today as the commanding officer of the 115th Precinct, which covers Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and the north section of Corona. That precinct is larger and has more problems--such as gang activity, prostitution and drugs. The move represents a promotion, since gaining experience in a tougher precinct is often viewed as the way captains climb up the NYPD ladder. While the 108 has had some high-profile crimes recently—such as the robbery of an 81-year old at a Chase ATM and a wave of burglaries in Sunnyside—the precinct is still viewed as a low-crime area. The crime rate—based on the number of reports—is flat so far this year, compared to the same period in 2013. The number of murders and reported rapes are down—although the number of burglaries are up about 7 percent. Hennessy said he enjoyed his time at the 108 Precinct. “I love this community and its leaders,” Hennessy said. “There are so many people who care and want to get involved,” he said. “It was an honor to be there.” The NYPD has yet to appoint a new commanding officer. In the interim, Capt. Richard Hellman, the executive officer of the 108th Precinct, is in command. However, Hennessy’s short stint did disappoint many—since most commanding officers stay at a precinct for two-to-three years. “I am very upset that he is leaving us so soon,” said Diane Ballek, the president of the 108 Community Council. “He is the best captain we have had in a long time,” Ballek said. “If you needed to reach him he was always there,” she said. “He would talk to people [with quality-of-life issues] for an hour some times.” His predecessor Capt. Donald Powers was viewed by many as less responsive and not so much of a people-person, several people said. “I am disappointed [that Capt. Hennessy has been transferred] since I believe he was doing a good job,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “I appreciated working with him and thought he was responsive and a straight shooter who cared about our neighborhood.” Van Bramer said he would be asking NYPD officials whether Hennessy’s short stint represents a new policy or whether what happened was an anomaly. Van Bramer also said he wants a new commanding officer to be named soon. “We cannot have a prolonged absence of leadership,” he said.

Crime Numbers 2014

Wolkoff claims that the 5 Pointz name is his, plans to use name for new towers
JacksonAvenueNov. 5, By Christian Murray Jerry Wolkoff, who is the final stages of demolishing Long Island City’s famous graffiti Mecca, said he plans to call his residential development 5 Pointz. Wolkoff, whose company G&M Realty filed an application to trademark the name in March, has received a wave of criticism from artists who claim they made the name famous. A spokeswoman for the artists told DNAinfo yesterday that Wolkoff’s trademark attempt was an effort to bank on their name. "It's ironic that the same corporation which single-handedly destroyed all the artwork known as 5Pointz is trying to capitalize on its name," she told DNAinfo. "The disrespect continues, I suppose,"  said Jonathan Cohen, who was the curator at 5Pointz and goes by the tag name Meres One. Wolkoff said the property is known as 5 Pointz. “People would go to 5 Pointz to see the street art,” Wolkoff said. “They would go visit my building—not anyone else’s building—to see the art.”
Jerry Wolkoff (source: Newsday)

Jerry Wolkoff (source: Newsday)

Furthermore, Wolkoff said, he worked with Meres in coming up with the 5 Pointz name in the first place. He said that Meres did not come up with the name alone--despite reports saying otherwise. “We collaborated on it,” Wolkoff said. “Do you think I would just let any name go up on my building?” Wolkoff said that Meres used to walk around 5 Pointz thinking it was his building—particularly after he announced his plan to develop the property. “I gave him permission to use it for all these years…and he would work with artists,” Wolkoff said. But the property was always mine to develop, he said, and deep down Meres and his crew knew that. Wolkoff is about to start construction at the beginning of 2015 on two high-rise apartment towers containing 1,000 rental units. Wolkoff said that he is always going to be criticized by a handful of artists. However, he hopes that will change once he has completed the two towers and the artists are invited back to display their street art. But he said that he has come to the realization that developers are not typically seen in a positive light. “I am the man with the black horse because I am the developer and they will always be riding the white horse,” he said.  
Dedicated bike lane spanning Pulaski Bridge to be completed by spring
Rendering of dedicated bike lane from Brooklyn

Rendering of dedicated bike lane from Brooklyn

Nov. 4, By Christian Murray The construction of the two-way protected bike lane spanning the Pulaski Bridge is expected to be completed by spring, according to the Department of Transportation. At a City Council Transportation Committee meeting yesterday, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer asked DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg when the delayed bike lane would be completed. Van Bramer was told that it should be ready by spring 2015 since the project’s contractor was recently approved by the DOT and a construction timeline will soon be released. The dedicated bike lanes, which were expected to be completed in 2014, will bring an end to the tense relationships between cyclists and pedestrians who currently share a lane. The change will result in a two-way protected bike lane that will span the bridge for cyclists. Meanwhile, an existing 8 ½ foot wide lane—that is currently used by both cyclists and pedestrians—will be for the exclusive use of pedestrians. The decision to add the lane comes after years of friction between cyclists and pedestrians. In 2009, when the community sought a solution to the problem of bike/pedestrian congestion, the DOT added markings and signage to help organize traffic and increase safety on the bridge. “Since then, the pedestrian volumes have increased almost 50% and the bicycle volumes have more than doubled, which is huge growth particular in the bicycle mode,” said Nick Carey, Project Manager at NYCDOT Bicycle Program, earlier this year. However, the creation of the dedicated bike lane will bring some changes to Brooklyn-bound motorists. The three lanes on the bridge going from Queens into Brooklyn will be cut to two, to make room for the dedicated bicycle lane.
New design

New design

LIC Holiday Market kicked off Saturday, open through Dec 21
Holiday marketNov. 3, By Michael Florio The LIC Flea & Food kicked off its ‘Holiday Market’ this past weekend and will be open every Saturday and Sunday until December 21st. The holiday market takes place inside a warehouse adjacent to where the LIC Flea & Food market takes place during summer--at 5th Street and 46th Ave. The indoor holiday market, which has come back for its second season, is open for an extended period this year. Last year, it opened on December 7 and went through until December 22. Many of the usual LIC Flea vendors will be at the holiday market. There will be clothing, jewelry, antique and art vendors—as well as those selling food and drink. The market will provide children with the opportunity to get their picture taken with Santa. There will also be live holiday music. The LIC Flea Beer Garden, which opened for the first time in mid-September, will be open serving locally-brewed beer as well as wine. Hours: 11am-6pm Saturdays, Sundays  

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