Reliving Memories

Dear Friends:
Still enjoying your magazine very much especially about Maspeth and in particular Dolores Gluckler Cullen's article in the Dec. 2012 issue. Those could have been my thoughts and words! I too went to PS73 and graduated from Grover Cleveland High School only a little later in 1960. It was wonderful reliving all the memories and it got me to look at my photos again.

Also, went on a memorable visit to Maspeth in September 2012! Richard Polgar was my neighbor growing up on 73rd Street and last September he took my cousin Christina and me over to my former home to meet the new owner and get a quick inside tour. Talk about a tearful and meaningful event! Imagine yourself doing that after 41 years!

So, thank you for your hard work and caring for the many people of your area, then and now. It's much appreciated.

Phyllis Moscicki Hughes
HoHoKus, New Jersey

Berry Wonderful

Thank you for the wonderful Juniper Berry magazine. Pictures from years ago with stories are great as are the current pictures and local information.

Mary Ann Ahearne

To Lorraine Sciulli:
Thank you. Today I received the issue of the Dec. 2012 Juniper Berry which you had mailed to me to replace the copy I never got. I am very appreciative of the prompt attention you gave my request. You restore my faith in “customer service.”

Bill Christman

Dear Bob (Holden),
Hope you enjoyed the holidays. I wanted you to see what my son gave me for Christmas. I was quite overwhelmed and, of course, very pleased.

Thank you again for all you did to make this possible. Still can’t believe how excited my family and friends are over “my article,” (Dec. 2012 Juniper Berry).
Happy New Year!

Warmest Regards,
Dolores (Gluckler) Cullen
Lakeville, PA

To the Editor:
I'm renewing the dues for my friend who I went to Resurrection-Ascension with and who now lives in Saugerties, NY.

Thank you for all you do for Middle Village, my home sweet home forever!!

Elna Kraupner
Bayville, New York

Idling EMS

Dear Editor:
I like to walk or bike around the perimeter of Juniper Valley Park to get my daily exercise. I have noticed that on many days an EMS ambulance is parked around Juniper Park for long periods with its engine running. Also on Grand Avenue in front of the Maspeth library on most days an EMS ambulance is idling with its engine on, spewing exhaust.

We can all agree that it's good that ambulances are deployed throughout our communities in the event that an emergency arises but wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to be breathing in all those fumes for hours at a time. I realize that for various reasons ambulances have to keep their power on so their medical equipment is ready when it is needed. Also it is necessary to keep the EMT crew comfortable so the vehicle is ready to go at a moment’s notice.

I wrote to the Mayor with my idea stating that there should be fixed stations where ambulances could hook up and get power for their equipment so they are able to shut off the engine reducing air and noise pollution. A short time later I received a letter from the Chief Of EMS, John Peruggla, and he informed me that it wouldn't be possible to have a fixed spot where an ambulance could get power because ambulances don't have a fixed site where they park. The 365 EMS ambulances are deployed at various locations in the five boroughs and it changes from day to day as determined by the different events of any specific day thereby making my idea impractical.

Perhaps something could be done with my other pet peeve which is the Mr. Softee trucks. If there ever was a company that could use clean technology it's Mr. Softee. They stand for long periods by the park with their engines running and children are gathered around breathing in all the fumes. When I walk or bike past them I have to hold my breath.

Richard Polgar

Illegal Apartment

To the Editor:
I just noticed another illegal conversion in our neighborhood on Eliot Ave. It is a legal 2 family house but the downstairs is a legal 1 bedroom apartment. The owner who I am assuming is going to rent the entire house is adding an additional bedroom under the rear porch of the house in order to rent the downstairs as a 2 bedroom instead of a 1 bedroom. Of course we all know what happens to our community once this happens, “overcrowding” of our schools, parking, etc.

Name Withheld

No Crossing Guard

Dear Mr. Holden:
I hope this email finds you well. I am contacting you in the hope of getting some assistance with a potentially dangerous situation at PS/IS 49.

Our crossing guard, Bill, has officially retired. In fact our school was informed of his retirement since before June 2012. There is no replacement as of yet, not even a temp. I have witnessed, on several occasions, vehicles going through the red light and also vehicles not adhering to pedestrians, children especially, while they are crossing. I myself have sent emails to the PTA inquiring about what is going on and why we don't have a crossing guard. I have also called the school office and asked, but haven’t been given any definitive answer. I have not received a response from the PTA either. It is very frightening and of great concern to me as a parent of a child who walks home from school. We shouldn't have to wait until someone gets struck by a vehicle to take action, especially a student.

I would be grateful, as I am sure many members of the community would also be, if you could offer some assistance in getting at least one if not possibly two crossing guards as soon as possible. It is horrible to have to live in fear of disaster every school day. I'm certain you have the phone number to the school, however, I'd like to offer it to you as well. I thank you for any help or advice you can offer.

Ester Levine
Middle Village

Response: Ms. Levine’s letter to Bob Holden was dated January 3rd, that same day he contacted Deputy Inspector Michael Cody. On January 7th a new crossing guard was assigned to PS 49. Her name is “Elsa.”

Balance the Berry

Mr. Holden –
As a Middle Village resident I enjoy your magazine very much, especially the old photographs and stories about local happenings in the neighborhood. I live a block away from Juniper Valley Park and I must say it has never looked better. I am sure your organization's efforts have much to do with this fact. For this I thank you.

However, there are some things about your publication that I find disturbing. Many of your opinion pieces are not very fair or accurate. A recent article by Patrick McCarthy was clearly politically biased. Mr. McCarthy espouses very narrow minded views that I assure you are not in step with mainstream America or our great City. Some of his statements are pure right wing propaganda. He pushes fear, and many of his observations are insensitive to certain groups of people

President Obama got re-elected because he received more votes, “it's called democracy.” The President's policies clearly resonated with middle class Americans and more could have been accomplished if it wasn't for the “Tea Party” obstructionists in the House of Representatives. If you are going to give someone like Mr. McCarthy a platform for his right wing views it should be balanced with a more moderate opinion piece. I am sure someone on your staff could come up with something, unless you all believe the same thing. If this is so I believe you should reach out to people with some different views and maybe start a constructive dialogue within the pages of the Juniper Berry.

Once again, I do enjoy your magazine, but please if you are going to print political views they must be more fair and balanced. Keep up the good work. Respectfully,

Gerard P. Cooney
Middle Village

Response: We are glad you enjoy our all-volunteer Juniper Berry. One of the great things about our American “democracy” is called freedom of the press. You state that you would like to see some different views printed in the Juniper Berry. Like Mr. McCarthy, you are free to submit articles on any topic. Mr. McCarthy takes the time to voice his opinions and contributes dozens of photos to our magazine. To quote Aristotle,
“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing,
be nothing.” ed.

State of Utilities

Dear Juniper Berry:
I would also like to bring to your attention the fact that Verizon is trying to get its customers to switch to FIOS and or Fiber Optics. The problem with Fiber Optics is that the phone line will only stay on for 8 hours.

I live in Middle Village Queens and we get a lot of power failures (at least two to three times a year, which also needs to be addressed) due to above ground electric lines. When Verizon was offering me their FIOS package and I asked them how long the service would last in a blackout they told me 8 hours. I told them that I did not want it no matter what the savings because I need my landline phone. I have an elderly father and he must be able to reach me in an emergency.

Then prior to Sandy they wrote to me about changing my copper wires to Fiber Optics because all of a sudden in the last year I had two instances where I could call out but could not receive any calls on my landline. My tenant was told by a Verizon tech that the box is not insulated from water leakage and they are not allowed to insulate the box because Verizon does not want to spend any money on maintaining the cooper wires, so I made an appointment to have them come and do it the weekend after Sandy.

Our power went out for three days after Sandy and my Verizon cell phone was not working right or keeping its charge, but my landline was fine. My friend down the block got FIOS and it made me think if my landline phone would also go out after eight hours if I got Fiber Optics. I called Verizon and asked and they said “yes” so I cancelled my appointment.

This concerns me very much. During 9/11 and the NYC blackout my copper wire landline always worked. What would have happened if I had no phone during an emergency and my father needed me or I had a heart attack and could not call 911 or even use a neighbor’s phone because everyone had fiber optics.

Verizon could install Fiber Optics that also includes copper but it costs more and the government does not enforce such a thing. This is a dangerous situation for all New Yorkers who are switching over if another disaster occurs.
Please look into this and address this issue and spread the word to the media before someone dies.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Sincerely Yours,
Marie Ann Meyr-Carolan

Parking Blues

To the Editor:
Hopefully you can help me, I am a long time resident of Middle Village and member of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

In Middle Village, especially on 82nd Street, there are motorists, many of whom are not residents, who park their vehicles in a way that block and/or obstruct residents’ driveways. This happens to me almost daily, forcing me to park on the street while my driveway sits empty. I live on 82nd Street in Middle Village.

Can you advise me on what I can do to alleviate this problem?

Vincent Verdi
Middle Village

Response: If someone is blocking your driveway please call 311 and report it immediately and write down the complaint number. If you find that the problem persists please email or call the JPCA.

Water & Sewer Line Insurance

To the Editor:
Subject: Water and Sewer Service Line Protection Program

Hello to my homeowner friends. This information applies to homes, I have known about this program for a couple of months, but it was just announced today by the city as being available.

This is something that you should all sign up for! With the age our homes are, we are all at risk for sewer or water lines breaking.

The way it works is that we, as homeowners, are responsible for repairing the sewer and water lines that go from our homes into the main lines in the street. It doesn't matter if the sewer and water mains were replaced recently on your street. The city does NOT replace or update the sewer and water lines that connect from the main to your house, so most likely your lines are the original ones. If one of those lines breaks, the city will slap a notice on your door that you have only a few days to get a specialized plumber to fix it. The cost to fix your water line runs around $5,000. The sewer line is even worse, $12,000 and up! I know lots of people around here who had to spend $12,000 to repair their sewer lines.

So you have to pull thousands and thousands of dollars out of thin air to repair your broken sewer or water line. And if you don't repair it, the city will do it and give you the huge bill or put a lien on your house!

Never mind the fact that it is outrageous that the city makes the homeowner responsible for doing these repairs – that’s the way it is it won’t change because your elected officials don't really give a crap!

But, the city has come up with this “water and sewer service line protection program.” At least it's something! You pay a certain amount each month – sewer line protection is about $8 a month and water line protection is about $4 a month. You can choose either or both and you can have it put on your water bill.

I know it is yet another monthly thing you have to pay for, but it is way better than suddenly having to scrape up thousands and thousands of dollars. Once you sign up for this, it covers anything that may happen to the lines.

Be advised that once you sign up, there is a 30-day waiting period.

You can just call the company the city has contracted directly to set it up. I did it today and signed up for sewer and water line protection. It just took a couple of minutes.
Here's the link and the info from the NYC online page.
Tell your friends and neighbors about it also.

Elaine Young, Vice Pres.
West Cunningham Civic Association

Start Working on the Railroads

To All Our Elected Officials – Today the train arrival was at 6:04am. What else can we say to all of you? The noise and air pollution, is unrelenting yet no relief to date, not even a hint that one day our lives will get back to normal.

All we ask for is sound barriers and cover. It's not rocket science to complete. It's not unrealistic to expect people to be upset and want their lives back.

We take Long Island's and Brooklyn's garbage and yet there's nothing in return for our suffering, nothing!

What gives with that? Senator Addabbbo you need to call Donald Trump and learn how to negotiate a deal because we are literally getting dumped on by everyone.

It's now 7:22 AM and the trains are shuttling back and forth with open exposed garbage and yet some pencil pusher now tells me that my house is worth $79,000 more today. What did he throw a dart against the wall to come up with that number?

I ask Council Member Elizabeth Crowley this question – who is going to buy my home with garbage piled house high in open containers for all to see not counting the foul odors? Yet when we asked for tax relief last year we are now back the very next year and the blood suckers in the NYC Finance Department want even more.

Way to fight for your constituents, both of you. They are sucking the life out of us middle class and yet you do nothing for us taxpayers.

Where are the cameras for Council Member Crowley and Senator Addabbo demanding tax relief for us Queens resident. Close a fire house and in an instant you're there and yet when you see your neighbors packing their bags to flee the city and state from high taxes not a peep from either one of you. How pathetic is that?

When is there going to be relief from the taxes and this damn train? It is a fair and just question and one that requires political courage to answer since neither one of you have responded to any request for answers, it is assumed that you don't know how to answer the questions. How sad is that? We suffer and you keep your jobs.

Is this the best we can do? I think not. Ineffective is the most polite thing I can say about State Senator Addabbo and Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.

Ed Cataldo
Middle Village

Ten Years & 14 Grand Holes

To the Editor
It has been ten years since the Long Island Expressway NYS DOT Project that improved sections of the LIE and the roadways that go over it. One of those roadways is Grand Avenue. When the section of Grand Avenue was completed we had a new roadway and sidewalks, which included 14 parking metered spots with 7 on each side of the street. In a matter of weeks with only one lane for traffic they realized something had to be done so they removed the parking meters and made it a no standing zone. Why the DOT engineers who designed this didn't know this before hand is a mystery and why they didn't make a wider sidewalk so that cars could park there is anyone's guess because there is always a need for parking on Grand Ave.

When they removed the parking meters there were 14 holes that became tripping hazards in one of the most dangerous locations for pedestrians and vehicles in Maspeth. After calling 311 and writing to the Queens DOT and not getting anywhere I wrote and called Assemblywoman Marge Markey and Councilwoman Crowley's office in December of 2008. After many calls and letters and years later the holes were patched in December of 2012.
Why should it take so long for concerned citizens to get our elected officials and city agencies to remedy an obvious safety problem? If one of those holes was in front of my house I would be fined but on government property they do nothing. Also in the winter after a snowfall this sidewalk is the last to be shoveled and salted. Maybe it takes a fatality or a serious injury and someone sues the city for millions before someone cares.

In 2003 a traffic study was requested by the Juniper Park Civic Association and the pedestrian advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives architect, Michael King. He found many things that could be done to improve safety. Although the DOT has made some improvements such as adding painted crosswalks, giving pedestrians a head start on crossing streets, creating turning lanes and the placement of some bollards to protect pedestrians, it is not enough. I would like to see bollards where those 14 parking meters were and try to make this dangerous narrow sidewalk as safe as it could be.

Richard Polgar

CKHS Responds to Fr. Carrano

Dear Ms. Sciulli,
Thank you for providing an opportunity to address questions raised in the recent letter from Father Michael Carrano, pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Middle Village, regarding Christ the King Catholic High School (Juniper Berry, Dec. 2012).

Recognizing that two persons attending the same meeting can have very different recollections of that meeting, it is necessary to address unfortunate inaccuracies and misconceptions in his letter. Father Carrano felt the meeting fell on “deaf ears.” My impression was that it was either “his way or the highway” by not allowing for any reasonable discussion.

Father Carrano first asks why Christ the King’s enrollment has decreased. As with almost all Catholic schools, both high school and elementary, enrollments have been uniformly decreasing across the Diocese. Our local Catholic grammar schools are being negatively affected by public schools that previously served grades K – 5, but now serve K – 8.

Recently, the Diocesan School Superintendent’s Office informed the high school principals that approximately 600 fewer 8th grade students have registered to take the TACHS (Test for Admission into Catholic High School) this year. Many parents tell us that the poor economy prevents them from meeting the cost of tuition. Father Carrano states at the end of his letter that Our Lady of Hope is also trying to maintain its enrollment. In addition, in the last two years, two new public high schools have been built in the Middle Village/Maspeth area only short distances from Christ the King and many families have opted, for financial reasons, to send their children to those schools.

TACHS data from the last two years indicate that 292 eighth grade students from our local schools listed Christ the King as their high school of choice. Out of those 292 eighth grade students, 206 met Christ the King’s academic, conduct and attendance requirements and were accepted. Additional students from outside the local area had a similar acceptance rate. To claim, as Father Carrano does, that no one chooses to attend Christ the King is factually incorrect. Although Christ the King’s enrollment figures mirror the overall decline of students attending Catholic schools, the enrollment is still, with nearly 900 students, near the top of the 17 remaining Catholic high schools in the Diocese. It should be noted that last year even New York City public schools reported a decline of over 50,000 students. There are simply fewer high school aged children in New York City!

At Christ the King, we believe that we must be proactive in securing the future of the school as well as Catholic education in general. The members of the Board of Trustees have made great efforts to make Catholic education affordable. That is why the Board has decided to utilize a part of the building to generate income. As you may be aware, Christ the King was built for 3,600 students. Never in its 50 year history has the enrollment come close to that capacity. Over the years, we have considered the needs of the community and have worked to address those needs by providing, daycare, tutoring, and after school programs. Now the Board has embarked on a vigorous program to ensure that unused space in the building is used to generate income by allowing this space to be leased to a Charter School for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students. This will relieve parents of some of the costs of a Catholic education for their children and also reduce overcrowding in the community’s public schools.

Specifically, the Board of Trustees has resolved that 40% of the rental income that Christ the King receives will be donated to the diocesan St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Fund to be used, at the Bishop’s discretion, to further Catholic education. Additionally, to protect our District 24 Catholic feeder schools, Christ the King will provide for any tuition loss suffered by a Catholic school within District 24 as a direct result of a student leaving that school and attending the charter school. The remainder of the rental income will be used to hold down the cost of tuition for our parents so that they can continue to afford a Catholic education. We have already decided that there will be no tuition increase for the high school for the 2013/2014 school year. In the years to come, we will also be able to offer additional scholarships as well as grants and financial aid.
Somewhat incredibly, Father Carrano asks, “What makes Christ the King a Catholic High School?” Christ the King is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. It has provided quality Catholic education for half a century. Christ the King is blessed with both a school Chaplain, provided by Bishop DiMarzio, and a full-time Campus Minister. Morning masses have been celebrated weekly by Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez, who also celebrated the opening Mass of the current school year. Our Chaplain, Fr. Frank Spacek, has developed a warm relationship with our students and faculty and celebrates school wide masses on a regular basis. Last year, Bishop DiMarzio celebrated Mass with Christ the King students receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Bishop also continues a long standing tradition of holding the diocesan Rite of Election at Christ the King.

We have an active campus ministry program giving our students the opportunity and encouragement to spread the word of God by participating in food drives, helping at senior centers, aiding the homeless, and performing many other acts of charity. Our students can be seen each year celebrating Sunday Mass on television with the Passionist community. Religion is a required subject for all four years that a student attends Christ the King. Our experienced religion teachers are devoted to spreading the Word of our Lord. These are just some of the things that make Christ the King a Catholic high school.

Father Carrano questions the visibility of Christ the King’s Catholic identity. We suggest that the community is quite aware of Christ the King’s Catholic identity. The community notices when our students help neighbors in need; when they clean local parks; when they honor our ancestors by helping maintain historical spaces within our cemeteries and cleaning up the cemeteries when weather disasters strike; when they volunteer to organize and give blood at blood drives; when they support the fight against cancer by forming a team to participate in the annual Middle Village Relay for Life; when they honor our veterans by participating in parades; when they provide food, clothing, money and shelter to those in need; and when our students bring pride to the community through their academic, artistic and athletic accomplishments. All this makes a community strong and Christ the King students play a pivotal role.

One of the programs of which we are most proud is our partnership with six Catholic grammar schools whereby we provide, free of charge, teachers who go to those schools to tutor students. We believe it has helped increase their enrollments by providing a service to students who would otherwise not be able to receive that service.

Finally, Father Carrano’s concern about Christ the King’s Catholic identity is particularly perplexing in light of the fact that Father Carrano himself entrusts virtually all aspects of parish life in his own parish, our neighbor Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village, to graduates of Christ the King. The success of Our Lady of Hope elementary school, one of the most highly regarded and successful Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese, has been in the hands of its principal, Ms Michelle Krebbs, Class of ‘73, for many years. A major part of the parish’s spiritual life is entrusted to Rev. Robert Armato, parochial vicar, Class of ’70. And Mr. Bernard Helldorfer, Class of ’73, is one of only two parish Trustees with responsibility for oversight of business and financial conditions.

These are only a few of the many things Christ the King has done to help make a strong community. Long after Father Carrano and I are gone, Christ the King will still be providing the community with quality Catholic education. I am proud to be part of the Christ the King community.

Thank you for your courtesy in giving Christ the King the opportunity to respond.

Michael Michel