Remembering the History of Strack Pond

Private First Class Lawrence Strack Memorial Pond was named after the first local youth killed in Vietnam. At the time it was dedicated, the pond had been converted to ball fields, but was converted back to a pond in 2004.

By Ed Wendell


Now that spring is here, countless people will be taking advantage of the good weather to take walks through Forest Park.

And is there a more beautiful spot in town than Strack Pond? Since it’s not entirely visible from the road through the park (and completely hidden from Woodhaven Boulevard), you can be forgiven for not knowing where it is.

Strack Pond sits directly across (and below) the Bandshell and the Forest Park Carousel, at the bottom of a deep depression left behind by glacial movement over 20,000 years ago.

Over the course of our history, that spot has always been a pond – except for a brief period of time when it had been filled in an ill-fated attempt to create baseball fields.

So now you know where it is and a bit about its history. Where did the name Strack come from?

As a young boy during the early 1960s, Lawrence Strack played baseball for a lot of local little leagues including the Cypress Hills Bombers, the Little Fellers League and Rich-Haven Little League.

Lawrence joined the Army and went through basic and paratrooper training in Georgia. He returned home before shipping out to Vietnam to marry his childhood sweetheart, Theresa Shannon of Woodhaven.

He began his tour in Vietnam in November 1966 as a Private and died in combat on March 3, 1967.

When the city converted this pond (which was unnamed for all those many years) into a pair of ballfields, American Legion Post 118 in Woodhaven petitioned to get them named after Strack.

Although Strack never played on those ballfields, he did ice skate on the pond that was there.

“Lawrence Strack lived in the tradition of American Youth and was an avid sports fan and participant,” the resolution read. “In the true tradition of an American, Lawrence made the supreme sacrifice that any American can make for his Community and Country when he gave up his life in Vietnam.”

Much was made of the fact that Lawrence Strack played on local ballfields as a boy, but it was also noted that Private First Class Lawrence Strack was not far removed from being a boy himself when he was killed.

Lawrence Strack was only 18 years old.

Just before the second anniversary of his death, legislation passed through the City Council and the new field was dedicated as PFC Lawrence George E. Strack Memorial Field.

However, the fields themselves would be short-lived. They sat at the bottom of this natural depression in the ground, one that had housed a pond for many years, and it held on to any water it received. Even a small rain could cause the field to get muddy and after a heavy rainstorm, it could take days to recover.

During the late 1970s, the fields were badly damaged by vandals. Over the winter, some drove their automobiles over the field, through the mud. By the time teams showed up for their first practice a few months later, all of the deep grooves in the mud were rock solid.

Assemblyman Frederick D. Schmidt came up with a solution, arranging to have a fire truck at the top of the hill connect to a hydrant and soak the field. Once it was muddy again, the coaches and managers did their best to rake it smooth.

It was playable, but no one who ever played on that field trusted a ground ball.

The ballfields were eventually converted back to a natural pond in a project that took two years to complete. When PFC Lawrence Strack Memorial Pond was opened to the public in May 2004, his family attended the dedication.

Since then, Strack Pond has become one of the more beautiful and most photographed locations in Woodhaven. It is very popular with hikers and bird watchers.

It is a beautiful spot, a great place to enjoy nature and the steep hill is a small price to pay for that kind of peace and tranquility. For although Woodhaven Boulevard is just a stone’s throw away, you can hardly hear it.

Take a walk and enjoy the peace and quiet and remember the young man — a boy really — whose all too short life ended so violently.

Local Food Pantries to the Rescue

By Pamela Rider

[email protected]

The people that work at food pantries are volunteers to help distribute food to the people in the community. Photo by Pamela Rider

The Jamaica area has an abundance of food pantries.

Deliverance Temple Food, Morris Brown AME Church-Helping Hand FoodPantries, Brooks Memorial United Methodist, Bethel Mission Church, Inc-Food, Bethel Gospel Tabernacle Church, Rush Temple AME Zion Church, are some of the sites that provide food weekly to the community.

Many local food pantries feed over 100,000 people in their community on a monthly basis.

Bethel Tabernacle runs their food pantry in the style of “grocery shopping.”

“I think that it’s important to make pantry service more of a grocery shopping experience,” Coordinator Jim Parsons shared with the Leader-Observer. “It adds warmth and flavor.”

“I am so thankful for these pantries,” said 87 year old Martha Wilson. She added, “I don’t know what I would do without them. I only receive social security, and we all know how that is.”

Many communities have a local food pantry. Most of these community food pantries are sponsored by local area churches or community coalitions. A food pantry is a distribution center where hungry families can receive food.

For many years, food pantries and soup kitchens have been a vital part of sustenance for many individuals that work for minimum wages, and require supplementary accommodations by their federal, city, and state governments.

These pantries are supplied with food from Food Banks, Grocery Store Overstock, Thrift Store Profits to Purchase Food, Community food collection/ donations, and Free from our Garden participants. A community food pantry’s mission is to directly serve local residents who suffer from hunger and food insecurities within a specific area.

Food banks receive food from federal programs. The USDA purchases food from farmers and delivers it to food banks for distribution in their communities. Presently, food pantries serve much more than soup and bread. Specifically, food pantries provide families with canned soup,

canned fruit, canned and fresh vegetables, canned stew, canned fish, canned beans, whole grain pasta, brown rice and dairy.

“City Harvest,” is the world’s first and largest food rescue organization established in 1980 that helped start the food rescue movement when a group of New Yorkers saw that New York City had an abundance of excess food, even while a number of residents struggled to feed themselves and their families. It is a Non-Profit Organization located at 150 52nd Street Brooklyn.

New York State recipients of the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” (SNAP), have received a 15% boost in SNAP benefits since January 2021 due to the COVID crisis by “The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance” (OTDA). The increased benefits were intended to stop once the government declared an end to the Covid public health emergency.

Although the public health emergency has been extended until April, Congress passed the “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023” in December 2022 that ended the supplemental “Emergency Assistance” benefits. February 2023 was the last month that supplemental benefits were issued to eligible recipients; nonetheless, food prices continue to rise due to deficits of natural reproduction.

Wilma Silks, a health care worker said, “You’d be surprised with the quality of the food that is given. Some of it is good name brand items, and many times the vegetables come from farms that donate to pantries. People used to think that pantries were for the poor and underprivileged, but now-a-days, many of us are considered underprivileged due to inflation.”

CBS News reported in Jan. 2023 that the cost of eggs is soaring as America’s eating habits change. A deadly disease “The Avian-flu,” wipes out millions of birds which has resulted with an inflation for the price of eggs.

On January 23, 2023, “The Economics Daily- Bureau of Labor Statistics” reported that consumer prices for all items rose 6.5 percent from December 2021 to December 2022. Food prices have increased 10.4 percent reflecting an 11.8 percent increase in prices for food at home, and an 8.3 percent increase in prices for food away from home.

Lawrence Walker, a 67 year old retired MTA worker said, “Even though I get money from my retirement and social security, I’m grateful that I can get some type of relief on my pocket by visiting my local food pantries!”

The history of food banks, pantries and soup kitchens in America can be traced back to the year 1929 with the effects of growing depression. When food pantries and soup kitchens first appeared, they were run by churches or private charities that served mostly soup and bread.

Local Food Pantries are used as a subsidy which accommodates many working individuals on a tight budget to put needed food on their table for themselves and their families.

For information about your community food pantry, go to

NYCFC Willets Point Stadium to Revolutionize Soccer in NYC, says C.O.O.

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]


Jennifer O’Sullivan grew up in an extensively athletic home, spearheaded by her sports-loving father, and played three sports in her home of Clinton, New Jersey.

Soccer was not one of those sports.

However, O’Sullivan now finds herself sitting in a position that can change Major League Soccer (MLS) at its core — to her, there is no better place to do it than Queens.

“The diversity of Queens as a borough cannot be denied,” O’Sullivan, 48, said over a phone interview. “It’s a true example of how the global game of soccer can really be used as a catalyst to bring people together culturally within the community, but also an economic boom for the borough and the city.”

As the C.O.O/Chief Legal & Administrative Officer at New York City Football Club (NYCFC), O’Sullivan has prioritized helping her club find a permanent place in Queens. The Willets Point Stadium, announced by Mayor Adams on Nov. 16, is a privately financed facility set to offer 2,500 affordable homes, a 25,000 seat stadium and a 250-room hotel. It’s expected to be completed in 2024.

Jen O’Sullivan. Photo: Matthew McDermott

O’Sullivan joined NYCFC in April 2020. Her role broadly encompasses running the operational and administrative areas of the business — human resources, IT infrastructure and facilities, navigating some of the contractual relationships with partners and working closely with NYCFC II, the reserve team and minor league affiliate of NYCFC.

Currently, NYCFC has no permanent place to call home. The team has been bouncing around from venue to venue — including Yankees Stadium — for their matches, but with a permanent stadium for their matches, they will be able to focus on the fan experience, and developing the talent of their organization, which is coming off the heels of a championship.

“I think in New York, you have this melting pot of people, many of whom came from nationalities and other areas of the world where the global game of soccer is just a way of life,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re really trying to identify people who have this strong love and passion for the game and say, ‘It’s okay for you to have your Mexican home team that you follow, but we can be your time here in New York,’”

MLS is a relatively young league in the United States, founded in 1993. NYCFC joined the league eight years ago, and in O’Sullivan’s three years with the organization, she has seen the program grow throughout the five boroughs, with a youth program or organization in approximately 70% of the city. In her time within the industry, she has seen soccer grow in New York City exponentially — instead of wearing NBA jerseys exclusively, her children and her friends are seen boasting soccer jerseys.

The United States hosting the 2024 World Cups, along with the men’s and women’s teams performing well in their performances in the past world cup, will likely add to this excitement around the sport. She hopes that this, plus the hard work of NYCFC to be involved in the community and be a presence beyond on the field, will help turn the occasional fan to an avid one.This involvement includes adding programs to schools and distributing food.

O’Sullivan hopes that the next step for NYCFC will be to add a women’s team and a women’s academy to complement their male teams, as “we see real opportunity in the women’s game as well.”

Despite being so young, she doesn’t want NYCFC to settle in their victory with the stadium — as C.O.O, she expects to continue growing the organization as forward as she can.

“We’re really doing everything we can do to ensure that this stadium journey and the stadium process is successful. Not just for us, but for part of the larger development of Willets Point and the borough of Queens, and growing out what those community initiatives look like,” she said. “If we can be a real catalyst for growth and change on the women’s side of the game, we would welcome that opportunity as well.”

How Did We Get Here?

Saturday’s Smokeshop Murder Leaves Community in Shock

By Ed Wendell

It was the early 1980s when VCRs – video cassette recorders – became affordable and suddenly everyone had one.

Now you didn’t have to miss your favorite television programs, you could record them. At the same time it created a demand for renting movies to watch at home and as a result video stores began popping up all over.

The Video Connection. Captain Video. Video Maniacs. They were everywhere. It was a fun and exciting time and no one was hurt. For sure, no one was ever killed over a VHS tape.

Four decades later a new market has emerged with stores popping up all over the place. Smoke Palace. Kush Kings. Leaf Connection. As a result, because of the way New York mishandled it, a market for violent crime and mayhem was created.

This past Saturday afternoon, while most of us were out enjoying the day, a young man was shot and killed during a robbery of a smoke shop on Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill. He was just 20 years old, his entire life ahead of him, ended violently because of the gross stupidity of New York.

How did we get here?

After many years of debate, New York made it legal to possess and smoke and grow marijuana in your home. But they dragged their heels on rolling out licenses and as a result today there are only 3 places in New York where you can purchase pot legally, all within a few blocks of each other in Manhattan.

As a result, entrepreneurs across the city began opening up shops to capture a share of the market and the city made the decision to leave them be. As a result we have shops all over selling pot openly and illegally. And because they’re selling it illegally, it needs to remain a cash business.

To recap, because it’s really hard to believe how stupid New York handled this, they took an underground business that was connected to the criminal world; they dropped businesses flush with cash and drugs in our laps; and they told the police to stand down.

What did they expect would happen? Of course all of these stores would become rich targets for robbery. Thugs know these stores have drugs and cash and if they get robbed they can’t really go to the police. These robberies are becoming more frequent and brazen and violent and what happened Saturday is the result of stupid arrogant thinking on the part of New York State.

Last year, we took a wee trip to visit a friend in Massachusetts. As soon as we crossed the state line we saw a half-dozen shops open for business, but the difference was that they were all licensed and all operating legally.

We stopped into one of them on the way home and it was as safe an environment as you could ask for. Upon entering the store we were in a lobby where a receptionist asked to see some ID. We gave her our drivers licenses and they scanned them in.

We were buzzed through a door and entered a long hallway where we were buzzed in through another door. Once inside, we were greeted by name by a young man with an iPad who walked us around and answered any questions we had.

You would tell him what you wanted and he would enter it on the iPad and when you were done, you went to the counter and paid for it by credit card and walked out with a nice bag. It was all very well organized and very, very safe.

Compared to Massachusetts, our state is the wild, wild, west. We have created a rich environment for crime and violence and over time, the toll on our communities will surely mount.

This was so badly handled that I don’t think that any of us expect that New York will work out a solution to this massive problem that they’ve created any time soon.
There’s really only one explanation for why the State of New York decided to roll out this law this way – they must have been high. And being high and stupid is a deadly combination.

Woodhaven Celebrates A 60-Year Love Story

By Ed Wendell

March 1963. John F. Kennedy was President. A first class postage stamp was 5 cents. The #1 song was “Surfin’ U.S.A.” by The Beach Boys, the top grossing movie was “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” and Pam and Walter got married.

This past Sunday, Pam and Walter Steffens were joined by friends to celebrate their Diamond Anniversary – that’s a 60 year long love story that’s still going strong.

Pamela Washburn and Walter Steffens knew each other long before they went on their first date.

“We lived right around the corner from each other. We knew each other since we were kids, but Walter was 4 years older than me,” Pam told me.

It was when Walter came home from serving in our military, when Pam was 18, that Walter really took notice. When I asked Walter what attracted him to Pam, he didn’t hesitate.

“Her legs,” he says. “Every time she would walk up the block, oh boy!”

Walter fell in love with Pam’s legs and then the rest of her and in April 1962 the following notice appeared in the Leader-Observer:

“Pamela Washburn, daughter of Mr. Ruth Washburn of 7804 86th Avenue was engaged on April 6th to Walter Steffens of 8615 78th Street. The date was also marked by the celebration of Miss Washburn’s birthday.”

And in March of the following year, they tied the knot and the rest is history. A son, Scott, followed but not until 21 years after they were married.

“We wanted to make sure the marriage would last,” Pam says, laughing. “God has his own timetable.”

Since then, the family has expanded to include Scott’s partner Dexie and two grandchildren, Deniel and Emily.

“We are very blessed,” Pam says.

As for their secret to 60 years of happiness Pam said “patience” and Walter said “compromise,” two virtues that not only benefit marriages, but friendships as well.

In fact, life overall would be better for everyone if we could just all be a bit more like Pam and Walter and keep those two words in mind when dealing with each other, even strangers.

Patience and compromise. You can build a lot of very special relationships with those two alone. And those words describe our friends Pam and Walter perfectly.

This past Sunday, Pam and Walter were joined by friends for a celebration of their marriage at Emanuel United Church of Christ on Woodhaven Boulevard and 91st Avenue .Pastor Charles LoCasto brought Pam and Walter up to the altar and renewed their wedding vows, it was a lovely moment.

Afterwards, everyone gathered for coffee and cake and lots of celebrating. They were joined by Walter’s sister Doris and her husband Paul who were on the eve of their own wedding anniversary, 52 happy years for them. It was a great celebration and I had 2 pieces of cake.

These are the good times; this is what living in a community is all about.

It’s about people caring for each other. It’s about taking the time to pick up the phone to check in on someone you know might be lonely. It’s about sending someone a card on their birthday.

And it’s about showing someone you care through a kind word or thoughtful gesture. It’s about showing patience and being open to compromise.

We wish Pam and Walter the happiest of anniversaries and look forward to celebrating many more with them; they are without a doubt the nicest couple in Woodhaven.

Emergency SNAP Allocations End, concerning Queens Advocates

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]


For the past two years, families that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have been provided the maximum amount of monthly benefits that is available for their family size. These emergency SNAP allocations, designed to help families during the pandemic, expired on March 1, greatly impacting those who rely on these services in Queens.

In 2021, during the height of the pandemic, Queens recorded a 48% increase in food insecurity, the highest increase among the five boroughs according to Jerome Nathaniel, the Director of Policy and Government Relations of City Harvest, one of New York City’s largest food rescue organizations. As for children, it increased by 60%

In response to the allocations ending, City Harvest is anticipating delivering roughly 75 million pounds of food free of charge to their network.

For the past 40 years, we have never shied away from stepping up where there’s these sorts of emergencies, even if there’s low unemployment, high unemployment, man made disasters or natural disasters, City Harvest continues to work with our network to do our best to make sure that our pantries are stocked with the food they need to serve folks,” said Nathaniel.

During the pandemic, food insecurity rates drastically increased, as 14.3% of the Queens population faced food insecurity in 2021 compared to 9.7 in 2019.

Queens was disproportionately hit hard by the pandemic — by job loss, by different low-income communities, low wage workers, immigrant communities, especially in Queens who may have not been eligible for a lot of these sort of government programs but were hit hard by economic impact by the pandemic,” Nathaniel said. “So it certainly had a disparate impact on Queens.”

Nathaniel described how the minimum benefit allowed for some households was $16 per month, and the Emergency SNAP allocations raised that to $281.

Just imagine over three years benefiting from that, not as some sort of privilege but really as just a survival tool, and then suddenly it’s all pulled from underneath,” he said.

In December, it was made clear to SNAP recipients that the additional funding was set to end — a three month turnaround that Nathaniel shared was “simply not enough time.”

In a report from the New York City Comptroller on March 1, 2.9 million New York households were enrolled in the SNAP as of December 2022, and that approximately one in 10 New York Households experience food insecurity.

He reported that with the loss of maximum benefits, as well as the increased benefits provided by SNAP for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) ending in October 2023, food insecurity could grow further. His office, among other suggestions, recommended that the federal government should extend temporary benefits related to SNAP and WIC until the increased cost of food due to inflation subsides. Many food organizations stand in agreement.

To help make up for the loss of benefits, there should be a coordinated response that involves community organizations working with city and state legislative leaders and other key officeholders who should use their budgets to protect New Yorkers from cuts in SNAP benefits by increasing investment in programs that provide crucial food support,” United Way of New York City said in a statement. ‘On the federal level, Congress should act to increase SNAP supports and sufficiency through key changes to the Farm Bill. Acting together, we can help make sure fewer New Yorkers go hungry.”

He also recommended that eligibility levels for SNAP and WIC should be increased to at least 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and that the Federal Child Tax Credit be expanded.

Food pantries and food banks are reportedly drawing larger crowds across the city, as reported by the New York Daily News on Feb. 28. They reported that advocates warn the end of the emergency funds will have a devastating impact in the city.

To wake up on March 1, and knowing that you’re going to lose anywhere from $95 to $200 in grocery benefits, at a time when food is at an all time high inflation rate, is really devastating. Just to really drive home the point of how these past three years really showed us that SNAP needs to be more,” said Nathaniel.

Remembering Father Cyclone

By Ed Wendell


He was a tough Irish kid from Elderts Lane, one of 12 children born to a tough New York City fireman and his wife who emigrated from County Cavan in Ireland.

He was an altar boy at the Catholic Church of Saint Sylvester in Brooklyn, around the corner from his house. His name was Father Lawrence Edward Lynch and he was a hero.

When he was assigned to the 69th Infantry Regiment, he stepped into some mighty big shoes worn by the famous Father Duffy, who was immortalized on film by Pat O’Brien in “The Fighting 69th” starring James Cagney.

According to those who knew him well and had the chance to work alongside him, he filled those shoes admirably.

Brigadier General Julius Klein was his commanding officer in the Pacific during World War II and recalled Father Lynch’s zest for justice when he stormed into his office fighting for a Jewish soldier who he felt had been unfairly passed over for promotion.

“It never mattered to him whether a soul was white or black, Jew or Christian, or unbeliever,” General Klein said of his friend. “To him, each human being was simply a child of God.”

They were at each other’s side on a rescue ship when rushing to the SS Elihu Thompson, a Liberty ship that had struck a mine on September 25, 1944. Eleven young men were killed and 22 were missing. They were never found.

While Klein was directing the rescue, Father Lynch tended to the mortally wounded, offering comfort and holding their hands so the young men did not have to die alone.

“Ego te absolve,” the “absolution of sin,” he whispered quietly in the ears of young men who would never see their friends or families again.
One of the young dying sailors was Jewish and asked for a rabbi. None were available, so Father Lynch held his hand and whispered “Sh’mai, Israel, Adonai, Eloheno Adonai echad.”

The young soldier died just as Father Lynch finished the prayer. Klein was overcome with emotion and never forgot the incident, often referring to the priest as his favorite Irish rabbi.

Regardless of who you were or what you believed, Father Lynch would be at your side when you needed him most. He was a priest first but a soldier second, and like so many young men of that era he was unafraid of the hazards of war, receiving five citations for bravery.

And it was this bravery that led father Lynch and so many other young soldiers to the island of Okinawa, a strategic piece in the impending land invasion of Japan.

The battle on Okinawa raged for weeks, and Father Lynch repeatedly sought out the battalions and regiments that were expected to see the heaviest action.

It was grueling and dangerous, but Father Lynch kept pace with the action, comforting the wounded and giving last rites to hundreds and hundreds of the 20,000 American soldiers that would eventually lose their lives in that battle by the time it ended.

On April 25, 1945, the Japanese were shelling the battalion that Father Lynch was traveling with and a soldier nearby screamed as he was hit. The tough Irish priest from Elderts Lane ran to the young soldier’s side and began offering the last rites when a second shell struck, killing both of them instantly.
Father Lawrence Edward Lynch was 38 years old.

At the end of June, after victory had been secured, over 4,000 servicemen attended a mass at his graveside in Okinawa. Back home, a steady stream of servicemen visited his parents to pay their respects long after the war had ended.

A local youth football league was started and named in his honor, taking part of his name along with honoring the other veterans of war: Lynvets.
And a piece of land near the border of Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Brooklyn was set aside as a memorial. A triangle at Atlantic Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard was dedicated in his honor following a large parade on October 8, 1949.

But over time, the sign disappeared and people forgot about Father Lawrence Edward Lynch. On March 9th 2019, the triangle was rededicated in his name. Members of the Lynch family along with community leaders from Woodhaven and Ozone Park gathered at the memorial to the local Irish boy turned hero priest they nicknamed Father Cyclone.

‘Eat Good, Live Better:’ Supreme Empanadas Opens in Jamaica

By Pamela Rider

[email protected]


Supreme Empanadas is a new local restaurant in Jamaica (137-32 Rockaway Blvd) that has an array of cultural dishes. Opened in October 2022, it is owned by Tajsaun Douglas, a 33-year-old up and coming entrepreneur who has lived in the area since birth. He was raised by his mother, father, and grandmother, and has had his fair share of life’s ups and downs during his journey towards manhood.

“I’ve always wanted to own my own business since I can remember. I just wasn’t sure what type of business that I wanted to pursue,” said Douglas.

Both of Douglas’ parents worked outside of the home, so most of his time was spent with his Nanna.

“She was always in the kitchen baking and cooking while she helped me with my homework,” he said. “Years went by and I became her best student of cooking creations, not to mention that I’m a foodie.”

Many local residents feel that Supreme Empanadas has an inviting ambiance which is quite inviting and magnetic to food lovers. Lamb empanadas are their specialty, and have attracted the attention of many.

Frequent customer Michelle Roberts said, “I just love their food. The lamb empanadas are my favorite. In this area, you can hardly find lamb in the supermarkets. I wish them all the best success!”

“Eat good, Live Better, is all about what we take in,” said Douglas.

He added, “The environment is all a part of living better. No one wants to feel slighted or uncomfortable when they visit any establishment. I do my best to cultivate my best and share it with others.”

“Soul food,” and “Chinese food” has monopolized most urban communities giving little to the imagination and to the palate of inner city residents. It serves its purpose, and has been prosperous for many years, and more than likely for many years to come.

Unlike many restaurants in the immediate area, this particular Supreme Empanadas in Jamaica advertises a daily special dish that is posted on their Instagram (@supremeempanadas). His menu has many diverse dishes that welcomes all to explore.

The reviews are outstanding from patrons that have posted their opinions on TikTok and other major platforms expressing their appreciation for the establishments cuisine. So many hashtags from so many customers. There are a handful of dissatisfied customers, but for the most part according to the reviews, Supreme Empanadas has been a smashing success.

These are just a few of the reviews and the daily specials that are shown on their Instagram.

Jacob Waters said, “I try to go there at least three times a week. The food is excellent and worth every penny!” Every time that I go, it seems like they have created a new dish,” added Waters.

“I’m just glad that I am doing well and pleasing my customers. As we all know, the customer is always right!, said Douglas. “I’m really thrilled with the outcome.”

This small restaurant affords the community with dishes that are usually out of their immediate reach, not to mention provides the comfortable atmosphere of love. The expression of love is not only expressed with the pleasure of the food and the desire for customers to climb on board the Supreme Empanada boat, but the love that is put into the meals that keep the customers happy and coming back for more.

“So far so good. Life is definitely looking up,” Douglas said.

Briarwood family demands justice for dog euthanized by ACC

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]


On March 12, the Leon family of Briarwood frantically searched for their missing dog Leona.

As a 19-year-old animal, they knew her eyesight wasn’t great and she was frail, so they spent the morning walking the blocks around their home calling her name and scouring the internet for any signs of her.

Through Facebook, they found good news — a picture of Leona on a missing pets group page. Upon calling the Good Samaritan who made the post, they found out she had been taken to an Animal Care Centers of New York City (ACC) shelter at 2336 Linden Blvd in Brooklyn.

This, the Leon family described on Monday at a press conference in Briarwood, is where the good news ended. Upon calling the shelter, the family discovered their dog had been euthanized by the shelter managed by ACC, which is overseen by the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

Standing at the intersection where Leona was first discovered by that good samaritan, on the Southeast corner of Smedly Street and Coolidge Avenue, the Leon family and local council member James F. Gennaro (D-Kew Gardens) claimed that the ACC went outside of its own policy and euthanized Leona inhumanely. They are calling upon the DOHMH to launch a formal investigation into the practices of the ACC.

“This is a grieving family that suffered the loss of their beloved pet, Leona, at the hands of the ACC for reasoning that I truly believe was completely unwarranted and atrocious,” Gennaro said. “Nothing like this should befall this family.”

“They didn’t get us the opportunity to say goodbye,” Vianey Areica Leon, the family’s mother said.

Vianey Areica Leon, the family’s mother, meeting Councilmember Gennaro for the first time.

According to policy found on their website, ACC shelters give potential owners 72 hours to reclaim their pet.

“We also will check for a microchip and search through various databases for any reports of lost pets that may fit the description of that animal. If no one claims during the holding period, he/she will receive a Placement Evaluation to determine next steps,” the website states.

Juan Leon described how the official time of death has not been provided for their dog, but that he expects it was just hours after she arrived at the shelter.

“Part of us is truly gone. She was the first love of my life,” Juan said, adding that he doesn’t understand how the ACC is able to operate in this way.

“We keep getting told different answers and we’re starting to notice that with every comment the ACC makes, they change the rules. They have a loophole for every action that they do,” he said.

However, the ACC shared in a statement to the Queens Ledger that the pets’ deteriorating health conditions led them to step outside this policy.

“She had no identification, no dog license and was not microchipped. Upon intake, Leona was seen spinning in circles and was wobbly when walking.  A comprehensive physical exam was done by a veterinarian indicating that she was in a very debilitated state and suffering from progressive neurologic symptoms.  She was minimally aware of her surroundings, non-reactive to stimuli, weak and unable to stand for more than a few minutes before falling.  She was emaciated with a body condition of 2/9 indicating possible chronic illness. The doctors at ACC do not take euthanasia lightly.  It is their job to direct a course that is in the best interest of the animal.  In Leona’s case, given her present state and in addition to all the other chronic, debilitating conditions she had (heart disease, blind, deaf, and severe dental issues) the doctors believed her to be suffering,” the statement read.

The emailed statement then stated that the law was on their side.

“For dogs with serious medical conditions and especially those stemming from extreme old age who are in pain and suffering, it is the duty of veterinary staff to provide peaceful end of life care. This decision is not made lightly but is always made in the best interest of the pet. In these cases, if a pet has been lost or abandoned, we scan for identification that ideally will lead us back to an owner before any end-of-life decision is made. However, if there is no information at all from a microchip or any other identification, we must make the decision on our own within the most humane timeframe. Euthanasia of stray animals is regulated by New York State Agriculture and Markets Law: The law specifically states that if an animal is suffering, euthansia may be performed before the stray hold period is over.”

Juan shared that their veterinarian had described how there was little that could be done regarding the age-related issues that Leona had, but the family made the decision with the veterinarian that she would live the rest of her life at home.

“Leona never stood a chance the moment she walked to ACC and that’s not fair,” he said. “That’s not fair. She should have came home to us, and she should have died on our terms. Our family should have made that decision of when to start her end-of-life story.”

Juan’s sister Ericka expressed heartbreak over what happened to her dog, adding that she “thought shelters were a safe haven.”

“They took my dog from me,” she shared, holding back tears, adding that while she plans to fight with her family for justice for Leona, “at the end of the day, I’ve already lost.”

The Leon family suggested that their dog was cremated without their permission, and when they went to retrieve their pet, they were met with a hostile environment, claiming they were reminded more than once that there were officers near the property.

They also insinuated that they plan to take legal action.

The Leon family is planning a rally on April 15 at the ACC Administrative Offices at 11 Park Place in Manhattan.

Gennaro is calling upon the New York City Council’s Legislative Integrity Unit to ensure that the city is on-track in construction of a full-service shelter in Queens and the Bronx, as mandated by Local Law 123 of 2018. The law requires that the shelters be completed by July 1, 2024, and the Queens shelter is under construction in Ridgewood. The mayor’s office did not reply by publication with details of how far along the construction is.

Through having a fully-functioning city shelter in each borough, Gennaro believes that capacity will no longer be a consideration in the decision-making by veterinarians regarding euthanasia.

“I don’t know if it’s a capacity issue, where they have to do whatever it takes to minimize capacity,” Gennaro said.

Uncle Max To Get His Due

By Ed Wendell

Woodhaven’s Dexter Park, which was home to the semi pro Bushwicks as well as the Brooklyn Royal Giants, one of the top teams in the Negro Leagues. Dexter Park also hosted Boxing, Soccer, Football, Polo (with horses) and in later years, Stock Car racing and was the home to Baseball’s first night games.

​​In 1892, a young man named Max Rosner immigrated to the United States from Hungary. He eventually settled down in Woodhaven, opening a Cigar Store on Jamaica Avenue near Forest Parkway that would operate very profitably for many years. He also became a resident of Woodhaven when he bought a home on 76th Street.

If that was all that Max Rosner ever did, it would be an American success story. But Rosner was no ordinary man, and his success story was far from ordinary.

As a newcomer to this country, Rosner became enamored with baseball, which was a relatively new sport at the time. He watched the local teams and eventually tried out and played shortstop for a semi-pro team.

In time, Max Rosner took over as manager of the Bushwicks, a Brooklyn-based team that played frequently at Dexter Park in Woodhaven, Queens.

In October of 1922 Max Rosner and partner Nat Strong purchased Dexter Park and the Bushwicks from the Ulmer Brewery for $200,000. Ulmer Brewery had been forced to cease operations due to prohibition.

Dexter Park became the home field for the Bushwicks and for the Brooklyn Royal Giants, one of the top teams in the Negro Leagues.

They began immediately to improve the ballpark, building a new concrete grandstand which increased the capacity to 13,000 (six thousand individual seats and bleachers which accommodated seven thousand people).

The playing field itself was one of the largest in the United States. The distance from home plate to the centerfield fence was a whopping 450 feet and only the legendary Hall of Famer Josh Gibson was able to hit one over it.

Legendary Yankees Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig flank Max Rosner and his grandson here in Woodhaven, at Dexter Park. Many Hall of Famers played baseball here in Woodhaven during the off-season.

The newly remodeled stadium opened nearly 100 years ago, on April 15, 1923.

Over the years, Rosner was also well known in Woodhaven for his charitable contributions. Numerous times, Rosner donated the use of Dexter Park for benefit games to raise funds for charities, including a series of games which helped construct a new building for Jamaica Hospital.

Rosner was famous for being the first one at the ballpark every morning, often to the chagrin of his groundskeepers. He was such a beloved figure to the residents of Woodhaven that he soon became known, even in the press, as Uncle Max.

Under his ownership, Dexter Park was a prime source of entertainment for residents in Woodhaven and the neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens that surrounded it. Dexter Park wasn’t just a home for baseball; Dexter Park also hosted Boxing, Soccer, Football, Polo (with horses) and in later years, Stock Car racing.

Every year, once the Major League Baseball season was over, legendary ballplayers such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Dizzy Dean would come to Woodhaven to play ball.

And over the years, legendary players from the Negro Leagues like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige played right here in Woodhaven, years before the color barrier would be broken in Major League Baseball by Jackie Robinson.

Dexter Park was also famous for the introduction of night games, a full eight years before it was adopted in the Major Leagues.

Although it was initially seen as a fad or a novelty, night baseball proved to be so popular with fans that in years to come, day games became far less frequent. Today, the majority of baseball games are played at night.

The lights at Dexter Park were designed by Herman Rosner, Max’s son, an electrician. When you consider the difficulty of fully lighting a field, while lighting the sky for fly balls while not blinding the fans or the players – this was a tremendous achievement.

Major League baseball on television hurt many semi pro teams, the Bushwicks included. Rosner shifted gears and converted Dexter Park for Stock Car Racing. Eventually, the crowds dwindled and after Rosner passed away, the park was sold and demolished, and new homes were built on the land.

This year, the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society requested that Dexter Court and 86th Road, where the box office of the old stadium used to sit, be renamed in Max Rosner’s honor. The proposal had the support of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, the Woodhaven Business Improvement District and Community Board 9.

Councilman Robert Holden enthusiastically sponsored the proposal and last week it passed unanimously in the City Council.

The attention that the street naming will generate will help highlight Woodhaven’s role in baseball history.

From playing host to many of the greatest players in Major League Baseball, to playing host to the greatest players in the Negro Leagues, to being the birthplace of the great innovation of Night Baseball – there is a lot for residents of Brooklyn and Queens, and Woodhaven in particular, to be proud of.

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