Cross Cultural Internship Program marks 10 years of guiding exchanged students

See this story at TimesLedger.com.

By Carlotta Mohamed

TimesLedger Newspapers

The Cross Cultural Internship Program celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this month as 70 exchange students from Asia and the Pacific nations recounted their experiences interning in the offices of Queens lawmakers at the 2018 Recognition Ceremony at Citi Field, home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets.

Over 130 guests attended the July 6 event, including city and foreign government officials, host representatives and university partners. Representatives from various government officials presented certificates, citations, and proclamations recognizing the involved parties’ efforts and achievements of the CCIP exchange visitor program in its cultural endeavors.

“Every year we host a recognition ceremony,” said founder Elizabeth Kay. “But our 10th anniversary makes it more special this year. It’s great to host our interns and partners, hear from prominent leaders, and then enjoy a ball game at the home of the Mets.”

CCIP is a full-placement Exchange Visitor Internship Program run by FUSIA, a U.S. State Department-designated visa sponsor in the J-1 intern category. It has been in operation since 2008 and provides opportunities to more than 1,000 exchange visitors from over 10 top universities in Asia.

This year 70 interns were selected from a pool of 1,100-plus applicants to participate in two seven-week core sessions. During the program, the students live together at the Asiatic Hotel located at 135-21 37th Ave. in Flushing and gain experience at one of the internship hosts, which are primarily located in New York City. The host organizations include the offices of U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley, U.S Rep. Grace Meng, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), Assembly members Ron Kim (D-Flushing), Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows). Others include law firms, engineering firms, ad agencies, real estate agencies, and more.

Students and host organizations took the stage to describe the positive experience of collaborating with the program and its participants.

Hor Yau Serena Wong, from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, majoring in law and English (Literary Studies), interned at Meng’s office, learning how to assist constituents with their requests and applications in a short time period.

Wong said the rewarding experience benefitted her in many ways and proved she made the right decision signing up for the CCIP program.

“I felt that I have matured emotionally, and am now much more confident in handling new tasks on my own,” said Wong. “Practically, I was given the chance to polish skill sets necessary for my future professional goals as well. I am deeply grateful for the patience and kindness that staff members from my host office had shown me.”

Yichun Fang, one of the group leaders, from the University of Hong Kong, majoring in law, politics, and public administration, completed his internship at Weprin’s district office.

“Before this internship, I would say I was not a confident person and prefer to write things out rather than speaking up, however, this internship pushed me to change,” said Fang. “I began to enjoy interaction with people and gained greater confidence. Being introverted is not a weakness, but I believe that the social skills I learned from this internship are definitely valuable.”

Representatives from host organizations and partner universities, along with community leaders, were presented handmade, paper cut gifts as tokens of appreciation for helping the exchange visitor internship program further its mission of promoting cultural exchange.

The ceremony commemorated the students’ experiences in the program with a video presentation produced by the exchange visitors. The photos featured in the video offered a touching look at student life that also took them on a trip down memory lane.

“I have made good friends I hope to keep all my life, and now appreciate other cultures more than ever before,” said Natali Chien Lin Ghui, from the Singapore Institute of Management, majoring in communications. “I have learned a great deal about my personal qualities, work ethic, and the specific skills that I can harness to achieve more in my future career.”

That night’s baseball game between the Mets and Tampa Bay Rays followed the close of the ceremony, providing students with a beloved and classic American experience to end the night.

While the ceremony marked the end of the first wave of the 2018 CCIP participation, it also marked the beginning for Session B students, who have seven weeks in the United States to look forward to.

Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmohamed@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4526.

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Source: Times Ledger

MTA will repair, not demolish Lefferts Boulevard bridge

See this story at TimesLedger.com.

By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

A years-long struggle between Kew Gardens’ residents, business owners, the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Long Island Rail Road over the Lefferts Boulevard bridge came to an end last week.

With the support of elected officials, the community was able to preserve Lefferts Boulevard and the small businesses on top of the overpass instead of seeing the bridge demolished, which was the MTA’s initial plan, according to residents.

“This action is the result of the persistent advocacy of the Kew Gardens community and the bridge merchants,” said state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans). “I was proud to work with them, as well as my colleagues at the city and state levels, to push for preservation.”

A month before the July 11 announcement, Comrie sponsored a bill that would have required a feasibility study to rehabilitate the bridge, which is between Austin and Grenfell streets, and it passed in the Legislature. The bill needed only a signature from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to direct the LIRR to conduct the research on such a project.

With the MTA agreeing to repair the bridge, the funds that would have gone toward the study can go directly to fixing the overpass, according to LIRR President Phillip Eng.

“We thank Council member Karen Koslowitz, who identified funding for this project,” said Eng. “After many conversations with the community and elected officials convened by Borough President Katz, my team looked at this issue more carefully and we determined that the best use of the funds would be to directly repair the platforms.”

Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) had used capital and expense funds set aside in the 2018 and 2019 fiscal budgets to pay for the bridge, and it amounted to $1 million, according to her spokesman, Michael Cohen.

“The demolition of the Lefferts Boulevard bridge would have had a devastating effect on the Kew Gardens community,” said Koslowitz. “On the bridge are the mom-and- pop stores that the neighborhood has relied upon and they also would have been gone.”

Structural repairs to a pair of platforms above the LIRR tracks in Kew Gardens that span either side of Lefferts Boulevard and provide a base for the neighborhood retail buildings would be made, according to Eng.

“The LIRR is an integral component of Queens and we understand the importance of these business to the character of Kew Gardens, so we wanted to re-evaluate all options,” said Eng.

The bridge was built in 1920 and the structures needing repair were concrete and iron platforms west of a roadway that supported a retail building at 81-12 Lefferts Blvd. and another one to the east on the roadway supporting another retail building at 81-19 Lefferts Blvd., according to the MTA. About a dozen businesses were housed within the two buildings.

The lifespan of the bridge is expected to be extended by 20 to 30 years. A contract is expected to be rewarded by the end of 2018 and construction should be finished by 2019, according to Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the LIRR and Metro-North.

In addition to the repairs, the LIRR platforms between Kew Gardens and Forest Hills are being extended to accommodate six cars instead of four, according to Kew Gardens Civic Association Executive Director Murray Berger, one of the biggest community advocates for the repair of the bridge.

While plenty of praise for the repairs has gone to Koslowitz, Comrie wanted to recognized state Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing), who died Sept. 2, 2017, for being one of the first elected officials to get the ball rolling on this subject.

“I thank my colleagues in government—namely Council member Karen Koslowitz, who has secured $1 million toward the cost of the repair, Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal, whom I worked closely with on this matter in Albany and the community, and the late Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz, who was a strong advocate for the bridge merchants and community,” said Comrie.

He also thanked the many civic associations that stood up to the MTA, and he plans on working to see the development to the end.

“I will continue to work alongside my partners in the community to ensure that the LIRR follows through on its promises and protects the existing businesses on the bridge.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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Source: Times Ledger

Infant found dead inside College Point home: NYPD

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By Carlotta Mohamed

TimesLedger Newspapers

COLLEGE POINT — A 3-month-old infant male was found unconscious inside a Dalian Court home at 114-37 in College Point July 11, according to the NYPD.

Police from the 109th Precinct responded to the 911 call at 12:51 a.m. and were informed upon arrival that EMS transported the 3-month-old male, identified as Shi Osbert, to New York Presbyterian Hospital Queens, where he was pronounced dead, the NYPD said.

There were no obvious signs of trauma observed and the medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

The NYPD said the investigation was ongoing.

— Carlotta Mohamed

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Source: Times Ledger

Astoria comedian competes on ‘America’s Got Talent’

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By Tammy Scileppi

TimesLedger Newspapers

Did Astoria-based comedian Carmen Lynch move a step closer to snagging her own Las Vegas show and a cool million on “America’s Got Talent”?

She’s tall and awfully funny, dishing out one-liners that leave her audiences in stitches.

Lynch always has lots of stories to tell. Some are silly, while others are unabashedly dicey and even self-deprecating. All are hilariously based on things that happened in her life… except for the things she exaggerates.

“I looked like such a freak. The teachers were so nice to me. They’d be like: ‘You should be a model because you’re so tall.’ You’re like: ‘What about my face? My face wants to be a model, too,” she joked.

That’s the joke that caught the judges’ attention, garnered four yes votes and a standing ovation after the comedian completed the memorable stand-up set. If you watched her “America’s Got Talent” audition on the episode that aired Tuesday, July 10, you would have appreciated everyone’s reaction.

New Yorkers who viewed the show that evening may have been surprised to find out their city was represented by a comic from Queens. This season’s only New York City competitor, Lynch made it onto the NBC talent show during the final round of auditions back in April.

And not surprisingly, she was over the moon when she witnessed Simon Cowell, Mel B., Heidi Klum, and Howie Mandel vote unanimously to send her through as an official competitor on season 13. That episode marked the final round of judge auditions. Lynch and a select few who made it past, via the golden buzzer, have been setting their sights on the grand prize: their very own Las Vegas show, and $1 million.

“It was very exciting. The energy of a packed theatre is always a good time. And I found the spot I was told to stand in without looking down too much,” Lynch told TimesLedger. “My sister said, ‘You were great on America’s Most Wanted.’ Took her about five seconds to realize what she said.”

The comic appeared in the next round this week in Tuesday’s judge cuts episode in which she performed a new comedy act in front of the judges. If she makes it through, Lynch then moves onto the live shows. If she doesn’t, she is out of the competition.

Lynch said she chose her highly competitive comedy career because in her view, “I can’t get fired unless I do it myself. And the dress code is casual. And I don’t fit well in cubicles.”

Her comedic influences include Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Dave Attell, and when she’s not cracking jokes, she’s engaging in something very different from stand-up comedy.

“Probably watching murders on TV,” she said. “I also like adventure, so last week after a Vegas gig I drove to the Grand Canyon for some hiking and then watched ‘The Staircase’ on Netflix.”

A regular at the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village, the seasoned comic has one goal: to always make people laugh. She has a bunch of shows lined up through August and is currently on tour promoting her comedy album, “Dance Like You Don’t Need the Money.”

After 15 years of performing in Gotham and Los Angeles, you can say she’s been around the block a few times… comedically speaking. Lynch has been featured on “Conan” and did her thing twice on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” You may have also seen her on television series like “Inside Amy Schumer” and “The Good Wife,” in guest roles. She once starred in a short film directed by Chloë Sevigny.

When it’s time to unwind, the roving comedian likes to stay local and hang out with friends at some of her favorite Astoria eateries and bars, including HinoMaru Ramen, Taverna Kyclades, and Astoria Bagel.

“There are so many and I’ve yet to discover more,” she said. “Hopefully, they’ll read this and slip me some extra noodles/octopus/cream cheese.”

Most comics don’t usually joke around when they’re not on stage and Lynch, who describes herself as “not really serious,” admitted that sometimes she can be an introvert.

“I think I’m taking in what’s around me, so I can come up with new material,” she said.

Aside from “America’s Got Talent,” Lynch said she’s currently “diving into stand-up in Spanish now, so maybe ‘America’s Got Talento?’”

Lynch credits some of her material to her family, who she said is very supportive of her comedy career.

“They don’t mind when I use them as material, which is helpful because I can’t stop,” she said.

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Source: Times Ledger

Mets’ first half struggles too much to overcome

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By Zach Gewelb

TimesLedger Newspapers

The All-Star break couldn’t come soon enough for the Mets, who experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows through the first half of the 2018 campaign.

Things couldn’t have gone better for the Mets out of the gate under new manager Mickey Callaway. The club jumped out to a red-hot 11-1 start and seemed to be a legitimate playoff contender. Turns out the Mets were just pretenders. New York started losing and really never stopped, as the team limped into the All-Star break tied with the Miami Marlins in last place in the National League East with a 39-55 record. While they are tied based on games back in the division, the Mets technically are the sole dwellers of the cellar based on their .415 winning percentage — Miami’s is .418 — which also gives them the worst record in all of the National League.

Let’s try and determine why the Mets have fallen so far and whether they can improve as the season progresses.

Health

The Mets’ supposed transformation during the offseason included a brand new training staff that would replace the much-maligned regime that was blamed for nearly every injury or rehab snafu under former Terry Collins. Well, nothing has changed. Stars are still getting hurt and the club hasn’t been able to offer legitimate timetables on their return.

Noah Syndergaard landed on the DL in late May with a finger injury that was originally thought to be a short-term problem. He was out more than month, returning July 13. Yoenis Cespedes hit the DL May 6 with a hip injury —also thought to be a short-term injury — and still hasn’t come back, though the club says he could come back shortly after the All-Star break.

Jay Bruce and Steven Matz have spent time on the DL this year, while Juan Lagares was lost for the season with a toe injury that required surgery. The Mets don’t have the depth to stay afloat with so many key players injured, which is one of the biggest reasons for their downfall.

Offense

The Mets have only scored 363 runs this season, which ranks dead last in the National League and is third-worst in the Majors. The club is also last in hits (715), total bases (1187) and batting average (.228). Losing Cespedes for two months would hamper any lineup and the Mets simply haven’t been able to recover.

Brandon Nimmo has emerged as arguably the Mets’ best player in Cespedes’ absence. But while Nimmo has burst onto the scene, Michael Conforto has struggled mightily after an All-Star season in 2017. Bruce’s injury situation has further weakened the lineup.

Look to the future

While the Mets’ starting pitching has been solid, their bullpen has struggled. Injuries, a lack of offense and a weak corps of relievers have proved too much for the Mets to overcome. Perhaps Cespedes’ return can provide a spark for the team as the second half of the season commences, but the damage is done.

The Mets will miss the playoffs again this year, and would be smart to trade off some of their veteran assets to kick off a rebuild and look toward the future.

Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewelb@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4539.

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Source: Times Ledger

On Queens’ shores, a lesson on asylum seekers

See this story at TimesLedger.com.

By Prem Calvin Prashad

TimesLedger Newspapers

Lost in the discussions on whether it is acceptable to lock up children separately or to simply lock up entire families for violating immigration law is the case of the Golden Venture, which landed on Queens shores 25 years ago carrying more than 200 illegal immigrants.

As the proponents of the Abolish ICE movement have asserted in recent weeks, not only is the country’s lead immigration authority a recent creation, but the enforcement of indiscriminate detention and deportation can be traced directly to the Trump administration and its stated policy to be “tough” on the undocumented after ebbing and flowing since the late 1970s. The subsequent crackdown has ensnared many, including lawful asylum seekers, long-term and law-abiding residents and others who have a reasonable belief that their safety would be in danger.

In actuality, at the turn of the century, to immigrate to America, one needed to arrive at a port of entry and pass a medical examination. Workers flowed seasonally across the border with Mexico. There were racist exemptions, mostly against Asian immigrations, but European immigrants, for the most part, enjoyed unrestricted entry to the country. As immigration from Western Europe fell and larger numbers of Jews, Italians and Irish sought out new lives in America, nativist panic led to the creation of quotas and other restrictions that have led to the modern restricted immigration system.

The practice of detaining asylum seekers has links to Queens, where on June 6, 1993, the Golden Venture, a cargo ship originating in China, ran aground on Fort Tilden beach in the Rockaways. Of the 286 on board, 10 drowned or died of hypothermia in the ensuing chaos and the remainder were incarcerated in York, Pa., where eventually some were granted asylum, but others were deported back to China or other countries that would accept them. Despite having a reasonable claim of asylum, having been the victims of human trafficking, some were imprisoned for up to four years. The detention of the Golden Venture victims became a national issue, eventually reaching President Clinton, who authorized the release of the remaining 52 detainees in 1997.

In the story of the Golden Venture, we see many parallels to today. Many of the victims were recruited by criminal gangs with the condition that they would need to work off up to $30,000 in the debt once they arrived in New York. Today, citing human trafficking and MS-13 as key concerns, our immigration system elects to punish those who arrive at the border to claim asylum. As was the case with the asylum seekers of the Golden Venture, who were starved and abused by traffickers, many have made a journey that no one would undertake unless they were truly desperate. At the time, many of the interpreters noted that despite their ordeal, the asylum seekers considered the hardship preferable to the political oppression and impoverishment in their home country.

Yet, with many similar stories of asylum seekers, having crossed oceans and made harrowing journeys to claim their right to petition for asylum, the United States has not progressed beyond the thinking of 25 years ago, in which the impulse was to lock asylum seekers in prison rather than give their petitions fair consideration. The Trump administration has announced plans to increase the number of detention centers, a troubling sign for an agency that already operates with a quota for number of beds that must be filled with detainees.

Those arguing the merits of family or separate detentions miss the lessons that happened on our shores 25 years ago.

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Source: Times Ledger

Troop 6000 expands to all five boroughs with $1 million grant from city

See this story at TimesLedger.com.

By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

More than a year ago, Girl Scout Troop 6000 started with one facility and 22 girls in Long Island City. Last week, the group catering to girls and young women in the shelter system received $1 million from the city and has already expanded to 15 shelters in all five boroughs to serve more than 500 youths.

There used to be one shelter by the Sleep Inn Hotel shelter in Long Island City and now there are three overall in Queens, according to spokeswoman Arianna Fishman.

“Girl Scouting showed me that I shouldn’t be ashamed of who I am, what I look like, or where I live, and that homelessness does not define me,” said Karina Burgess, a Girl Scout from Queens who has since moved out of the shelter system to permanent housing. “Troop 6000 taught me about sisterhood, how to be courageous and how to advocate for girls just like myself.”

Troop 6000 was established in February 2017 and within months of providing leadership and community development programs at its first site, a temporary shelter just north of the Queensbridge Houses at 38-71 13th St., Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to provide a three-year, $1 million grant to expand the program to all five boroughs.

“Every single girl in the city of New York deserves the opportunity to join a community where they are told that they are welcome, that they belong and that they are loved,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).

He helped longtime friend Giselle Burgess start the program after she and her five children moved into the shelter when their rented home in Flushing was sold.

“Troop 6000 helps girls have a place where they can feel home even when they are homeless. This program changes lives,” Van Bramer said.

The group was created through a partnership with the city’s Department of Homeless Services and the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. The resources, which will come from the Mayor’s Fund, cover membership fees, troop dues, starter kits for girls (vests, pins and workbooks), program supplies, financial aid for summer camp and other miscellaneous Girl Scout initiatives, according to DHS.

“The partnership between the city, the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, and the Mayor’s Fund represents the very best of what we can accomplish in collaboration,” said Darren Bloch, the executive director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

First Lady Chirlane McCray believes the investment will have a big impact on the lives of these girls and young women.

“The Girl Scouts in Troop 6000 are an impressive representation of New York City’s next generation of entrepreneurs, leaders and humanitarians,” said McCray. “With Troop 6000 in all five boroughs, any girl or young woman who wants to be a Scout, can be a Scout — no matter where she lives. Programs like these create continuity for young people whose families may need to relocate often.”

Troop 6000 meets weekly in shelters across the city and is led by trained troop leaders, which is a combination of women living in the shelter system, community volunteers, and shelter staff, according to DHS. To accommodate the mobility of members, the troop leaders and scouts are welcome to any shelter meeting since it’s one big chapter. Scouts from other boroughs have already joined the program and the funds will allow them to fully have the troop experience.

“A wise woman once said, ‘Who runs the world? Girls!’ Never has that been more true than today,” said DHS Administrator Joslyn Carter. “On behalf of the Department of Homeless Services, we are all overjoyed to celebrate and support Troop 6000, helping over 500 girls and women experiencing homelessness build the confidence, character and community to be our City’s next generation of leaders.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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Source: Times Ledger

Troop 6000 expands to all five boroughs with $1 million grant from city

See this story at TimesLedger.com.

By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

More than a year ago, Girl Scout Troop 6000 started with one facility and 22 girls in Long Island City. Last week, the group catering to girls and young women in the shelter system received $1 million from the city and has already expanded to 15 shelters in all five boroughs to serve more than 500 youths.

There used to be one shelter by the Sleep Inn Hotel shelter in Long Island City and now there are three overall in Queens, according to spokeswoman Arianna Fishman.

“Girl Scouting showed me that I shouldn’t be ashamed of who I am, what I look like, or where I live, and that homelessness does not define me,” said Karina Burgess, a Girl Scout from Queens who has since moved out of the shelter system to permanent housing. “Troop 6000 taught me about sisterhood, how to be courageous and how to advocate for girls just like myself.”

Troop 6000 was established in February 2017 and within months of providing leadership and community development programs at its first site, a temporary shelter just north of the Queensbridge Houses at 38-71 13th St., Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to provide a three-year, $1 million grant to expand the program to all five boroughs.

“Every single girl in the city of New York deserves the opportunity to join a community where they are told that they are welcome, that they belong and that they are loved,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).

He helped longtime friend Giselle Burgess start the program after she and her five children moved into the shelter when their rented home in Flushing was sold.

“Troop 6000 helps girls have a place where they can feel home even when they are homeless. This program changes lives,” Van Bramer said.

The group was created through a partnership with the city’s Department of Homeless Services and the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. The resources, which will come from the Mayor’s Fund, cover membership fees, troop dues, starter kits for girls (vests, pins and workbooks), program supplies, financial aid for summer camp and other miscellaneous Girl Scout initiatives, according to DHS.

“The partnership between the city, the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, and the Mayor’s Fund represents the very best of what we can accomplish in collaboration,” said Darren Bloch, the executive director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

First Lady Chirlane McCray believes the investment will have a big impact on the lives of these girls and young women.

“The Girl Scouts in Troop 6000 are an impressive representation of New York City’s next generation of entrepreneurs, leaders and humanitarians,” said McCray. “With Troop 6000 in all five boroughs, any girl or young woman who wants to be a Scout, can be a Scout — no matter where she lives. Programs like these create continuity for young people whose families may need to relocate often.”

Troop 6000 meets weekly in shelters across the city and is led by trained troop leaders, which is a combination of women living in the shelter system, community volunteers, and shelter staff, according to DHS. To accommodate the mobility of members, the troop leaders and scouts are welcome to any shelter meeting since it’s one big chapter. Scouts from other boroughs have already joined the program and the funds will allow them to fully have the troop experience.

“A wise woman once said, ‘Who runs the world? Girls!’ Never has that been more true than today,” said DHS Administrator Joslyn Carter. “On behalf of the Department of Homeless Services, we are all overjoyed to celebrate and support Troop 6000, helping over 500 girls and women experiencing homelessness build the confidence, character and community to be our City’s next generation of leaders.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

Comment on this story.

Source: Times Ledger

Summer events flaunt Brookville Park’s transformation

See this story at TimesLedger.com.

By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

Over a decade ago, Brookville Park was thought of as a place where a gruesome attack occurred. The last decade, however, has seen it become a place of community pride with the help of the volunteer park organization Friends of Brookville Park, which is led by President Kangela Moore.

The park is between the neighborhoods of Rosedale and Brookville on South Conduit Avenue and 149th Avenue, between 232nd and 235th streets. It was the site of a notorious rape in 2000, but under the leadership of Moore and with the care of a 40-person-strong volunteer group, the 90-acre park has been transformed into a family-friendly communal space, according to Moore.

By linking up with community partners such as Partnerships for Parks, St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, New York Coalition of Transportation Safety, NYPD School Safety Division, Fire Engine Company 314 and area officials, it is now a place where members of the southeast Queens community spend their free time.

In March, the volunteer group received the Trowel Award for its decade-long service as the source of family engagement and community events at the fifth-annual “It’s My Park” reception, held by Partnerships for Parks.

On July 28, there will be arts-and-crafts lessons on how to crochet. On Aug. 11, between 10 a.m. to 12 p.m, there will be an education reading session for families where the first 20 children to arrive will receive a free book. In the fall on Oct, 20, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. it will host an It’s My Park Day fair, and in the past the group used the park clean-up event to give away 1,000 car seats and donate helmets and bike locks, while providing bike safety seminars. Its inaugural Friends Giving event is scheduled from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 21. Dec. 1 will mark its ninth annual tree lighting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

On June 30, Friends of Brookville Park hosted a volunteer awards ceremony to celebrate the men and women who have helped to beautify and renovate the park.

They also received proclamations from Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Far Rockaway) and state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) for the park’s 10th year anniversary, and the volunteers received proclamations from both Richards and Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens).

The event held at Brookville Park included performances by singers Lady G, Tiniqua Jones and dance performances by Jules Performing Arts, as well as music from DJ Todd.

“We are going to give back to our volunteers,” said Moore. “They are the backbone of all of our events, especially our tree lightings.”

After taking 501c3 courses at a six-week seminar at the Rockaway Development and Revitalization, funded by City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Far Rockaway), Moore will soon learn if Friends of Brookville Park will officially become a non-profit.

“People want to see something that is bigger than themselves that will bring the community together,” said Moore. “People want to give back to the community for its betterment and create a safe haven.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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Source: Times Ledger

DEP proposes $400 million plan to improve Jamaica Bay

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By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

The city’s Department of Environmental Protection, environmentalists and elected officials announced a $400 million proposal to improve the ecological health of Jamaica Bay, which has lost approximately 85 percent of its historical wetland coverage over the course of the last 150 years.

“This additional $400 million investment into Jamaica Bay is yet another step forward in making the bay healthier for the surrounding communities and the overall ecological health of New York City,” said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), a member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “With this funding, DEP will be able to begin expanding several green infrastructure projects as well as restoring many acres of wetlands.”

The proposal was submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation and if approved, planning and design for the project could begin as soon as 2019, according to the DEP.

Under the Clean Water Act and the DEC Wetland Permit Reviews, the DEP, which is a complement of the larger state agency, must ensure the protection of state-regulated wetlands and follow their regulations.

The Jamaica Bay Improvement Plan includes restoring 50 acres of wetland, seven acres of ribbed mussel installations, salt marshes and environmental dredging, according to the DEP. Once completed, if accepted by DEC, it could improve the air quality and lower summer temperatures with the significant number of new trees and plants that would be built.

“Few parts of the country know how important taking care of the Earth is as well as we do,” said state Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Broad Channel). “Investing in this ecological jewel will not only show off the natural beauty of our water and its ecosystem, but will create the next generation of environmentalists to preserve and protect it.”

Alex Zablocki, executive director of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, said he was pleased with the announcement and hopes the plan gets approved.

“Jamaica Bay is host to over 300 species of birds and diverse marine life dependent upon wetlands, marsh islands and upland forest,” Zablocki said. “Green infrastructure projects will help stabilize and restore these precious resources supported by the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.”

In May, the DEP invested $23 million to upgrade the Rockaway Wastewater Treatment Plant to reduce the discharge of nitrogen in the bay in order to prevent excessive algae formation from corroding marshlands that help to protect the shoreline and from killing marine life, which acts as food for migratory birds.

Restoring the wetlands at Jamaica Bay will help to filter impurities from the water, protect from coastal erosion during major storms, provide a habitat for fish, reptiles and birds, and prevent sewage overflow in coastal communities, according to environmentalists.

“After years of advocating for the bay, it is very encouraging to see the numerous environmental projects ‘turning the tide’ on the health of the bay and producing water quality and restored habitat that guarantees a thriving Jamaica Bay for future generations,” said Dan Mundy, of Ecowatchers, a preservation group that advocates for the protection and enhancement of Jamaica Bay.

The Jamaica Bay Improvement project would also expand on the city’s Green Infrastructure Program to design and construct sustainable green roofs, rain gardens and sidewalks that promote natural water movement and collects and manages stormwater runoff to keep it out of the sewers, according to nyc.gov.

These programs would be implemented areas near Jamaica Bay like Northern Channel, Inner-Bay and Rockaway Shore, according to the DEP. Thurston, Bergen and Paerdegat basins would be included, as well as Spring, Fresh and Hendrix creeks.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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Source: Times Ledger