VFW Post 2813 shutters amid pandemic

VFW Post 2813 in Sunnyside. Screen grab via Google Maps
VFW Post 2813 in Sunnyside. Screen grab via Google Maps

The John Vincent Daniels Jr. VFW Post 2813 has closed its doors for good, according to multiple reports.

The Sunnyside post served veterans of foreign wars for nearly a century. It moved to its current location in 2013.

But according to former commander Marvin Jeffcoat, who is also running for City Council, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from renting out the space.

Reports say the facility closed at the end of 2020.

In the meantime, members will use the nearby Catholic War Veterans Post 870 in Woodside.

Hopefully, membership will increase and VFW Post 2813 will come back.

Here are the winners of AOC’s Congressional App Challenge

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The winner of the Congressional App Challenge in New York’s 14th congressional district is Michael Batavi from the Bronx High School of Science.

Batavi designed CrownCatch, a mobile app designed to help users minimize their risk of catching and spreading COVID-19 by providing news from reputable outlets, notifications of local case counts and encouraging people to socially distance through a points system.

Check out a video demonstrating the app here.

“Michael’s application was unique, navigable and had a real potential to scale up,” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said. “He also thoughtfully considered behavioral psychology when designing a points system that would incentivize users to observe COVID-19 public health guidelines.”

The runner-up in the 14th congressional district is Christopher Schack, who designed Ability Tester, a website with five tests to measure a user’s short-term memory, vision, hand-eye coordination, motor skills and reflexes. Watch how the app works here.

The winners are traditionally recognized with a reception in Washington D.C. This year, the ceremony will be held virtually due to the pandemic.

Sunnyside Community Services offers free ESOL classes on January 12

Image courtesy of Sunnyside Community Services
Image courtesy of Sunnyside Community Services

Sunnyside Community Services will begin teaching English to New Yorkers in January through a series of free classes.

Between January 12 and March 25, SCSNY will hold online English for Speakers of Online Languages (ESOL) classes.

The classes will have four levels: Beginning I, Beginning II, Intermediate I and Intermediate II. Participants will be offered a choice between morning and evening sessions.

The free classes will use Zoom, Google Classrooms and other platforms.

Classes are three days a week, Tuesday through Thursday. Morning sessions are from 9 a.m. to noon, and evening sessions will be from 6 to 9 p.m.

Every year, about 450 students take ESOL classes offered by Sunnyside Community Services. The sessions are funded by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development.

Classes are limited to 35 students per class. Registration is accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. The deadline to register is December 30.

Register online here.

Community visioning session for Lt. Michael R. Davidson Playground

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On Wednesday evening, the Parks Department is hosting a visioning session for the community to share their input for the new Lt. Michael R. Davidson Playground.

The playground, located at 50th Street and 39th Avenue, was formally called Phipps Playground, but was renamed after fallen firefighter Michael Davidson last year.

Davidson grew up across the street from the playground. He spent his 15-year FDNY career at Engine Company/Ladder 28 in Harlem. He died fighting a fire in Harlem in March 2018.

The Parks Department acquired the site for $2 million in September 2019. The lot sat vacant since 2007. The agency has set aside $3.5 million for development of the site into a playground.

Register for the community visioning session here.

Bronx man indicted for knife attack on 7 train

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Patrick Chambers from the Bronx was indicted by a Queens grand jury on attempted murder charges for allegedly stabbing two elderly men on a 7 train in July.

Chambers, 46, was charged in a seven-count indictment, including attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The incident took place on the morning of July 5, when the 7 train they were on stopped at the 52nd Street stop. Chambers was seen holding a knife in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other.

He allegedly began yelling at a 71-year-old man sitting across from him before stabbing him. A fellow straphanger, 73 years old, stepped in to try to stop the attack, but Chambers allegedly stabbed him too.

Both victims were treated at local hospitals.

“There is no justification for this kind of senseless violence,” said Queens DA Melinda Katz. “We should always be safe traveling on our subways.”

Pick up any missed packages on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Woodside Post Office. Image courtesy of Google Maps.
Woodside Post Office. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

As the holiday season starts, the U.S. Postal Service added hours to make sure customers get their online packages in time.

In Queens, 15 post offices have added additional Sunday package pickup hours for customers who have missed a delivery.

Through December 20, these post offices, including the Woodside location, will add an extra four hours – totaling 300 extra hours for customers.

Customers can come to the Woodside post office on Sundays to pick up packages between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Customers also don’t need to leave their home to ship their packages. Visit usps.com to schedule a pickup.

Pol calls on Phipps to better maintain Sunnyside building

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In midst of a battle over an affordable housing proposal by the nonprofit developer Phipps Neighborhoods, State Senator Michael Gianaris is calling on the group to better maintain the Phipps Garden Apartments in Sunnyside.

Gianaris recently visited the 39th Avenue building with tenants. According to the senator, he witnessed infestations with bugs and vermin, mold from water damage and general failure to upkeep property.

According to the housing advocacy data aggregator JustFix.nyc, the property has dozens of open violations with HPD. Phipps Gardens Apartments has 472 mostly rent-stabilized apartments.

While Phipps is still seeking approval of their new development, Gianaris said the approval would be “troubling” without confidence that they can maintain their properties.

“These tenants deserve a better quality of life, and we must hold their corporate landlords accountable for failing to deliver,” Gianaris said. “Phipps Houses must respond to the needs of their Sunnyside tenants and clean up this property”

Here’s his full letter to Adam Weinstein, CEO of Phipps, dated November 30:

Dear Mr. Weinstein,

            I write with serious concerns about the condition of Phipps Garden Apartments on 39th Avenue in Sunnyside. Tenants have contacted me numerous times about the lack of routine maintenance at the property. After personally visiting the building and meeting with tenants this past week, I must agree that conditions at this property are uninhabitable for hundreds of rent-paying tenants who live there. 

            Upon my visit, I was greeted by residents who shared evidence of problems associated with inattention and lack of adequate maintenance staff. I witnessed vermin, bedbug, and roach infestations, water damage leading to mold, and residents forced to clean and maintain common spaces themselves. Their complaints are well founded, and the result is unacceptable.

            The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development affirms these concerns since, according to JustFix.Nyc, you have dozens of outstanding violations for this property and hundreds that you have received over time. This is an abysmal record that requires immediate rectification.

            Your rent-paying tenants deserve better. The fact that you are currently asking for approval to expand your development onto a neighboring parcel is troubling if we can expect this record to be repeated at the new location. I ask you to do your job and ensure all your current and future tenants receive the quality housing they deserve.

Sincerely, 

Senator Michael Gianaris

Deputy Majority Leader

Queens Chamber of Commerce Holiday Toy Drive

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The Queens Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Holiday Toy Drive from now through December 10.

The chamber’s headquarters, located at the Bulova building at 75-20 Astoria Boulevard, Suite 140, is collecting new, unwrapped toys for all ages.

Toys can also be shipped to the chamber office. All toys will be donated to the Child Center of New York.

For more information, call 718-898-8500 ext. 123.

Happy holidays!

Submit your entry to the Thanksgiving Day Showcase

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State Senator Michael Gianaris is now accepting entries for his annual Thanksgiving Day Showcase.

Young people from kindergarten to sixth grade from across the district can submit an essay, poetry, artwork or other creative depiction showing what they are thankful for this time of the year.

“This year has been so difficult in so many ways, and this annual program is, I hope, a small sense of normal for families in our community,” Gianaris said. “During these challenging times, it is important to reflect on that for which we are grateful.”

Submit entries on Gianaris’s website, gianaris.nysenate.gov. Entries are due by November 23.

Renovations underway for Doughboy Plaza

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Photo credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

The $1.87 million project to reconstruct the plaza around Doughboy Plaza in Woodside is underway.

Parks Department officials and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer broke ground on construction last week.

Here is what the project entails:

  • Reconstruct plaza around Doughboy monument
  • New drinking fountains, seating and pathways
  • Reconstructing existing retaining wall and 9/11 Memorial plaque and flagpole
  • New security lighting, drainage and plantings
  • Easier access to dog run

Doughboy Plaza is not only a terrific green space for Woodside residents, it’s also a community space used for ceremonies, such as for Memorial Day.