Thank the FTA

Dear Editor,
How disappointing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) forgot to acknowledge the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for providing the funding to pay for the new subway cars purchased on behalf of New York City Transit during a recent ceremony held in Brooklyn marking delivery of the first five cars.
A series of FTA grants to the MTA over several years will pay for most of the base bid of $1.44 billion awarded to Kawasaki to purchase 535 new state-of-the-art R211 subway cars.
They will primarily replace a similar number of subway cars currently operating on the A & C lines that have reached their useful life.
There are also option clauses to the contract that afford the MTA opportunities to purchase up to 1,077 additional cars at a cost of $3.7 billion. FTA funding will also pay for many of these cars, as well.
Larry Penner
Great Neck

Give life

Dear Editor,
Our Lady of the Snows Church at258-15 80th Avenue in Floral Park will host a blood drive on Sunday, July 18, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This is a great opportunity to truly give the gift of life by donating blood.
Did you know one in three will need blood some time in their life?
Blood last only 42 days, and your donation is critically important due to the pandemic. So, please donate the gift of life if you can.
Frederick R. Bedell, Jr.

Beat the heat in the city’s public pools

Summer fully and truly came to New York City last week as the season’s first major heat wave reached the East Coast. Temperatures bordered on 100 degrees early in the week, with temperatures remaining in the 90s well into the night.
The city issued a heat advisory for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and also asked that individuals try to limit their energy usage to prevent blackouts.
So besides air conditioning, what can Brooklyn and Queens residents do to beat the heat?
Answer: go to one of the boroughs’ many public pools.
A great number of city parks feature pools that are free and open to the public. However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind before heading to one of these outdoor oases.
All pools in New York City parks are open every day from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m., with a break for pool cleaning between 3 and 5 p.m.
Visitors are encouraged to bring a combination lock along with them if they hope to store their valuables in one of the provided lockers. Storage lockers are free, but fill up quickly on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Parks Department also asks that visitors limit the amount of wrapped food, paper, and other potential litter that they bring with them to the pool.
Most importantly, bathing suits are required. This means that on-duty lifeguards will not allow plain-clothed individuals to enter the water. Nude swimming is also prohibited…for obvious reasons.
Throughout the summer, the city also offers free swimming lessons for people of all ages. This includes classes for toddlers (1 1/2 to 5 years old), children (6 to 17 years old), and adults (18 years old or older).
Some pools provide additional classes that focus on specific swimming techniques, so be sure to check out the Parks Department website to see what your local park is offering.
Brooklyn parks with pools include Betsy Head Park (Brownsville), Bushwick Playground (Bushwick), Commodore Barry Park (Downtown Brooklyn), Fox Playgrounds (Canarsie), Thomas Greene Playground (Gowanus), Gleenwood Playground (Canarsie), Howard Playground (Brownsville), Kosciusko Pool (Clinton Hill), Lindower Park (Mill Basin), McCarren Park (Greenpoint), Red Hook Pool (Red Hook), Sunset Park Pool (Sunset Park).
Queens parks with pools include Astoria Park (Astoria), Fisher Park (Flushing), Fort Totten Park (Bay Terrace), Detective Keith L Williams Park (Jamaica), Marie Curie Playground (Bayside), Lawrence Virgilio Playground (Sunnyside).

Public school film festival coming to parks

Every year, the Parks Department hosts its annual Movies Under the Stars series, bringing new and classic films to green spaces throughout the five boroughs.
Parks is building upon that tradition this year by showcasing some lesser known filmmakers…the students of New York City public schools.
The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and the Department of Education announced that 32 short films created by public school students will be recognized during the 3rd annual New York City Public School Film Festival.
In years past, the student film festival has been held indoors, but this year the event will be held outside and free to the public through the Movies Under the Stars program.
The New York City Public School Film Festival was created to provide an opportunity for students to have their work recognized and consider careers in filmmaking. The films represent the talent and diversity of students citywide, and filmsn were chosen by a panel of teachers and media professionals.
“Congratulations to all the student filmmakers for their insightful and inspiring contributions at this year’s NYC Public School Film Festival,” said Anne del Castillo, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. “We are so proud to partner with the Department of Education and renowned award-winning talents to support these young filmmakers.”
“The unique voices featured highlight the diversity and talent of New York City students, and we’re thankful for our arts teachers and school leaders who support our students’ creativity, artistic skills, and critical thinking every day,” added Maria Palma, executive director for the Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects.
The film’s showcased during the festival represent a variety of cinematic disciplines, including animation, documentary, and short narrative film. All of the films are between one and five minutes long.
In addition to being a showcase of the best student talent citywide, the NYC Public School Film Festival was created to help emerging student filmmakers consider future careers in the entertainment industry.
To this end, the festival reached out to a variety of professionals in the world of film who will attend this weekend’s events and speak to students about their work.
These include Tamar-kali, the Brooklyn-born composer of the Oscar-nominated Mudbound, and Kemp Powers, the Brooklyn-born, Oscar-nominated co-writer and co-director of the award-winning film Soul and writer of One Night in Miami.
The Public School Film Festival will take place in parks throughout the city. These include a July 9th showing at Travers Park in Queens, a July 10th screening at Central Park in Manhattan, and a July 11th screening at Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
If you are not able to attend in person but still want to watch the work of these talented students, all of the winning films are available to watch online or on YouTube at the NYC Mayor’s Office’s official channel.

Outdoor dining extended for another year

Last June during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo passed an executive order creating a one-year outdoor dining program.
After a year of widespread adoption (especially in New York City), Cuomo finally signed legislation this past Wednesday that will allow restaurants to continue operating in public spaces for another full year.
“By extending the much-needed lifeline that allowed restaurants to use outdoor public spaces for seating during the pandemic, New York is ensuring that these small businesses will be able to continue to use these spaces as they work to rebuild and support the revitalization of the Empire State,” Cuomo said during his announcement Wednesday.
While many of the governor’s pandemic measures, including many partial closures and limits on capacity, are expiring as the city returns to normal, outdoor dining’s continuation speaks to the program’s popularity among many of the state’s residents.
Wednesday’s announcement comes on the heels of other recent developments regarding open streets.
Back in June, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that several streets throughout the five boroughs will be permanently transformed into pedestrian and bike-friendly “Open Boulevards” starting this summer, dramatically expanding the limited street closures that currently exist.
“In a year of dramatic changes to our urban landscape, Open Boulevards will transform New York City’s streets like never before,” de Blasio explained. “The recovery for all of us will come to life on these streets, where small businesses, restaurants, artists, pedestrians, and cyclists will gather to create the kind of destination you can only find in the greatest city in the world.”
The Open Boulevard will expand upon the current provisions made for Open Streets by adding more permanent signage, landscaping, and advertising on select streets. Like Open Streets, the new boulevards will be closed to traffic to allow for outdoor dining, performance space, and pedestrian access.
Approximately $4 million has been allocated to the Open Streets program since its creation. However, the program has been subject to criticism by business owners who believe the work of placing and removing barricades has unfairly become their responsibility.

Borough president race is tight and turbulent

While many races in Queens found winners on Primary Day last month, a number of competitions were too close to call after tallying first round votes.
Three weeks after the fact, ranked-choice and mail-in ballots have been counted, offering a clearer view of who won some of the more contested races in the borough.
The race for Queens Borough President was the highest profile race to go down to the wire. Current Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and ex-councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley had previously ran against each other in a special election for the position last year, and their rivalry escalated to new heights as ballots were counted this past week.
On primary day, Richards barely led with 41.7 percent of first choice votes while Crowley closely trailed with 40.4 percent. After all the ballots had been counted, Richards still led by a slim 50.3 to 49.7 percent margin.
The borough president declared victory at this point, but ruffled many feathers when he tweeted “We beat your racist a**,” implying that Crowley had previously said he only won because of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.
Crowley responded with her own statement: “I’m extremely disappointed by the slanderous and untruthful remarks made by one of my opponents. Politics and campaigning can be tough, and I understand that some may take legitimate policy disagreements personally on the trail. “However, I’ve always believed that leadership is about taking the high road and representing the people, not Trump-like bullying on Twitter and making unfounded accusations with no evidence whatsoever.”
Crowley is yet to concede from the race and is instead waiting for the Board of Elections to “cure” (a process by which voters can fix improperly completed ballots) votes.

104th Precinct Police Blotter (6/28/2021-7/4/2021)

Monday, June 28
Clarissa Muniz was arrested at 64-07 Grand Avenue for misdemeanor assault by Detective Friedrich.
Roboam Gonzalez was arrested at 58-19 Myrtle Avenue for petit larceny by Officer Chowdhury.
Lopez Mejia was arrested at 953 Wyckoff Avenue for aggravated harassment by Office Leblanc.

Tuesday, June 29
Raul Diaz was arrested at Cooper Avenue and 64th Place for driving while intoxicated by Officer Lenoci.
Oxana Sardano was arrested at 59-87 57th Road for felony assault by Officer Bartichek.

Wednesday, June 30
Nicole Rodriguez was arrested at 552 Grandview Avenue for reckless endangerment by Officer Duran.
Christopher Snyder was arrested at 56-02 Arnold Avenue for burglary by Officer Parsell.
Michael Padua was arrested at 55-19 69th Place for misdemeanor assault by Officer McMahn.

Thursday, July 1
Jeffrey Druger was arrested at 61-18 82nd Place for strangulation by Detective Scrimenti.
Alondra Pulla was arrested at 73-44 53rd Avenue for burglary by Officer Alban.
Jonnathan Ludizaca was arrested at 50-00 Grand Avenue for misdemeanor assault by Detective Lodato.
Ryan Rivera was arrested at Cooper Avenue and Cypress Hills Street for criminal possession of stolen property by Officer Martinez.
Angel Vasquez was arrested at 65th Street and Cooper Avenue for criminal possession of stolen property by Officer Martinez.
Franciel Luna was arrested at 80th Avenue and Cypress Hills Street for criminal possession of stolen property by Officer Martinez.

Friday, July 2
Keith Fox was arrested at 66th Road and 73rd Place for criminal mischief by Officer Lin.
Jack Galindo was arrested at 57-34 Myrtle Avenue for misdemeanor assault by Detective Wright.
Oleksandr Garvrylyuk was arrested at 71-50 71st Street for misdemeanor assault by Office Wong.

Saturday, July 3
Erick Moreta was arrested at St. Nicholas Avenue and Palmetto Street for felony assault by Officer Gutierrez.
Bruce Savinelli was arrested at 60-58 55th Street for child endangerment by Officer Paesell.

Sunday, July 4
Jenice C. Ramos was arrested at 69-30 64th Street for misdemeanor assault by Officer Rosalez.
Ealan S. Ramos was arrested at 69-30 64th Street for misdemeanor assault by Officer Rosalez.
Jamie D. Antoine was arrested at 62-48 Mount Olivet Crescent for strangulation by Detective Wright.
Fuquan Robinson was arrested at 60-75 67th Avenue for resisting arrest by Officer Jimenez.
Brian J. Lugo was arrested at Myrtle Avenue and Cypress Hills Street for reckless endangerment by Officer Gonzalez.

‘Art in the Parks’ grant winners announced

Local artists Sherwin Banfield and Haksul Lee each receive $5,000 grants to create temporary art installations in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“In addition to supporting Queens-based artists, we look forward to activating the park with new artworks as we emerge from the pandemic,” said Elizabeth Masella of the Parks Department. “Both artists’ work highlights eco-friendly technology like solar and wind power, while honoring the park’s past, present, and future.”
The “Going Back to The Meadows: A Tribute to Queens Hip Hop Legend LL Cool J” and “Performance at FMCP” by Banfield will be located at David Dinkins Circle near the boardwalk ramp entrance to the park from the 7 train at Willets Point.
Banfield describes it as “a sculptural sonic performance artwork that evokes the feeling of Flushing Meadows Corona Park as an event space, channeled through the sonic frequency and artistry of Queens hip-hop legend LL Cool J.”
Banfield’s recent exhibitions include sculptures for the Queens Central Library, Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport, Socrates Sculpture Park, and the Factory LIC Gallery.
“The Giving Tree” by Lee will be located on the lawn bounded by Herbert Hoover Promenade, United Nations Avenue North, and Avenue of the Americas.
Lee describes it as taking the form of a tree, “to bring awareness of the environmental concerns in the Queens community.”
The main structure will be made of recycled materials collected locally. The top of the sculpture will function as a wind turbine to power a charging station in the tree’s trunk.
Lee’s work was recently exhibited in The Immigrant Artists Biennial, at the Korean Embassy in Beijing, and the Phyllis Harriman Gallery.
“The grant is intended to help transform these selected sites into art destinations through a series of rotating exhibitions with supporting events and programs,” said Alliance for FMCP executive director Janice Melnick.

Movie buffs praise return of films to big screens

Cinemart Cinemas on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills recently reopened, delighting neighborhood movie-goers as well as owner Nicholas Nicolau.
After being closed since March of 2020, the theater finally received permission from the state to open its doors in April, but waited until May. Most COVID restrictions are lifted, but a few still remain in place.
“Despite all the restrictions being lifted, we also learned a lot during COVID and we still require customers to wear masks until they get to their seats,” said Nicolau.
“I think as long as everyone is cleaning up after themselves and using hand sanitizer and staying protected, I think that’s good,” said Valentina Sifontes, who caught a film at Cinemart this past weekend. “it’s just a good experience hanging out with my friends and being somewhere and watching a movie with them.”
Nicolau has worked in the movie business for more than 40 years, and owns two other theaters in addition to Cinemart Cinemas. He said it was hard as an independent business to survive the pandemic, and he had to close Alpine Theater in Bay Ridge.
On top of the pandemic, there has been a push to release new movies on streaming platforms, leaving the future of theaters in question.
“My position is that all of the television and the streaming services are fine with me and should be available to people who chose to stay home,” said Nicolau. “But as a movie theater, we don’t benefit from this in any way.”
Eliana Borukhov and Magghi Mae Blackvargas are longtime patrons of Cinemart Cinemas. Borukhov said she prefers going to the theater over streaming.
“It’s just a different experience.” said Borukhov.
Nicolau immigrated from Cypriot to New York when he was just 12. His first jobs were in movie theaters.
“At an early age, I knew that this business is really something that I felt close to,” said Nicolau. “I started thinking and planning how I could open a small theater.”
Nicolau said independent movie theaters create a sense of community.
“The experience of watching this together and the energy it creates between the people is something that I believe some of us would like to maintain and would be better off with for a healthier society,” he said.

Stained glass brilliance in residential buildings

Stained glass is often associated with houses of worship, but the apartment buildings built in the ’20s and ’30s in Forest Hills and Rego Park feature numerous examples of decorative glass, ranging in styles from Art Nouveau and American Neo-Gothic to Renaissance and Tudor.
“Glaziers were excellent craftsmen, and these local windows stood the test of time and are absolute treasures,” said Jon Schwartz, a member of the Facebook group Historic New York City.
A development boom was sparked by the opening of the IND subway in 1936 and the 1939–1940 World’s Fair. Apartment buildings with ornate and charming details were a draw for residents who lived in congested Manhattan.
“The light from these windows turns these rooms into beautiful sunlit tapestries,” said Forest Hills resident Pat Lannan, who said they are as important to the neighborhood’s history as the brick pavement in Station Square. “It really is the looking glass into the care and craftsmanship to produce these pieces of art.”
At the time, much of Forest Hills and Rego Park offered a country-like setting with open spaces, recreational conveniences, and modern amenities.
On opposite sides of one street are two outstanding examples of Tudor Medieval meets Gothic buildings.
In 1936, The Mayfair House at 110-21 73rd Road was designed by Cohn Brothers and built by Austin Building Corporation. Its sister building, The Windsor House at 110-20 73rd Road, opened in June 1937. It was built by Arende Building Corporation.
North Carolina resident Richard Delaney, who was raised in the Holland House in Forest Hills, remembered The Mayfair House’s large arched lobby windows. One of them features Jean-Francois Millet’s “The Sower,” a popular figure in stained glass.
“I really thought that I saw glimpses of King Arthur, Lady Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot in some of those portals,” he said. “The magnificent craftsmanship, design, and detail that went into creating these lobbies is incredible.”
Completed in 1931, Sutton Hall at 109-14 Ascan Avenue was designed by Constantinople native Benjamin Braunstein, an award-winning architect.
On its largely intact façade are Medieval-style doors and windows with colorful stained glass that includes knights, horses, ships, and castles.
“Its style and architecture, somewhat reminiscent of an Old English Manor, is replete with quaint charm and rustic simplicity,” a prospectus at the time read. “A superb accomplishment, adapted to every element of fine living, Sutton Hall is one of the outstanding examples of artistic residential planning in the country.”
The castle-inspired Valeria Arms, complete with roof turrets and finials, was also designed by Benjamin Braunstein. It was a most desirable address when it opened in 1929 at 77-16 Austin Street.
It features stained glass arched transom windows with crests in two entryways.
In Rego Park is the Spanish Mission-style Marion Court at 62-98 Saunders Street. Completed in 1929 and also designed by Braunstein, it is among the three earliest apartment buildings developed by Real Good Construction Company.
The distinctive Colonnade features arched leaded-glass windows with spun-glass roundels and two stained glass portals of colorful castle scenes, which add character to the first grand scale lobby of Rego Park.
John Morelli of Forest Hills described one that is partially obscured by an exit sign.
“The obstructed one has sails, so it must be a really nice ship which was probably owned by royalty because that’s mainly who lives in castles,” he said.
“Stained glass is becoming a lost art, and I don’t know why,” said artist Carol Gilmore, who works with stained glass. “How can anyone walk into a building and not be in awe of the beauty and precision, and the light that filters through these beautiful glass windows?”
In 2014, Matt Wiederhold created the Facebook group Vintage American Stained Glass.
“Stained glass is fascinating because it would be such a personal choice for someone building a home,” he said. “Why did they choose certain colors, patterns, designs? I feel the windows give a bit of insight to the homeowner, they tell a story of design and artistry.”

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