Excessive trash near Frank Principe Park affects quality of life

Tractor trailers parked there every day, residents say

By Jessica Meditz

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The trash-filled tractor trailers park along Borden Avenue morning, noon and night. (Photo: Lance Lovejoy)

Residents of Maspeth say their quality of life has been negatively impacted since at least the summer – due to the presence of excessive waste material trucks.

Locals say that tractor trailers filled with waste garbage park along the service road of the Long Island Expressway by Frank Principe Park.

The vehicles usually park on Borden Avenue in the morning and remain there all the way up into the evening hours, leaving the liquids to drip onto the street, smells to waft into the air and parking spaces to be taken away from local drivers.

Lance Lovejoy, a Maspeth resident who lives right up the block from the park, feels that the situation is a lost cause unless the signage along the road is changed to make it no standing for commercial parking.

According to the current signage, vehicles cannot park there from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. There is also a three-hour commercial parking rule, prohibiting commercial vehicles from being parked at one location in a residential area for over three hours.

“The whole park is almost like a garbage dump over there. It stinks, and it was worse during the summer when it was hot, but it’s still going on,” Lovejoy continued.  “They’re waste material trucks, garbage and dripping liquids onto the floor. I guess the drivers, when they do come back, they sit in them for a while and they’re throwing all their garbage on the sidewalk.”

Liquids ooze out of the trucks. (Photo: Lance Lovejoy)

He added that some of the neighbors have even told him that they’ve seen truck drivers publicly urinate in the vicinity.

“Nobody is happy right now, over there,” he said.

Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman, Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct, has sent officers to the site to issue tickets to these vehicles.

However, Lovejoy feels badly that police resources are being used for this issue, and wishes it could be handled in a more direct way, as there are more pressing issues in the community that need to be addressed by police.

“Police could be doing other important things than worrying about a garbage truck,” he said.

Councilman Robert Holden is aware of the issue, and has taken steps to address it – including visiting the site last Friday with multiple agencies and civics. In addition, they visited the location at Cypress Avenue between Cypress Hills Street and Vermont Place in Liberty Park – which is facing a similar quality of life issue.

A task force was convened with the 104th Precinct, NYPD Transportation, The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the Department of Transportation (DOT).

According to Daniel Kurzyna, Holden’s Chief of Staff, the police will increase enforcement of commercial vehicles parked at that stretch.

“Council Member Robert Holden believes that quality of life is paramount, which is why he convened a task force to tackle illegal parking of tractor-trailers and waste haulers in residential areas, particularly a park,” he said. “His constituents deserve a good quality of life, and he is committed to fighting on their behalf to ensure they have that.”

“Science in a Box” kits delivered to District 29

Sun Works kits given to students from three elementary schools

A P.S. 54. student receives her supplies (Photo: Emil Cohen/NYC Council Media Unit)

By Alicia Venter

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600 STEM Hydroponic Kits, also known as “science in a box” kits, were distributed to three elementary schools in Southeast Queens on Friday, Jan. 13.

The schools that received the kits include PS 54, The Hillside School; PS 99, The Kew Gardens School; and PS 144, The Col. Jeromus Remsen School in Forest Hills.

The hydroponic kits were provided by NY Sun Works — a non-profit organization that builds innovative science labs in urban schools — in partnership with local council member Lynn Schulman.

The kits came equipped with a 10-lesson climate and science curriculum meant to enable students, with a teacher’s guidance, to grow, study and run investigations with plants.

They are designed to expose students to hydroponic farming technology on a miniature, hands-on level.

“Our kids only get one chance at a good education. That is why I am thrilled to partner with New York Sun Works to deliver 600 hydroponic STEM kits to local schools throughout Council District 29,” said Schulman in a press release. “These kits will be paired with a 10-lesson curriculum that teaches students the importance of sustainability and urban agriculture while enhancing their  observation and data collection skills. I look forward to seeing the final results from this unique and vital life lesson program.”

The schools also received the Discovering Sustainability Science curriculum, and teachers are provided the tools to tailor the curriculum to address the needs of the students.

The program will reach more than 1000 elementary-age students at the three schools, all located in the 29th Council District that Schulman represents.

“We are excited to engage young learners in plant biology by delivering hundreds of interactive and innovative STEM kits in Queens with Council Member Lynn Schulman,” said Manuela Zamora, NY Sun Works Executive Director in a press release. “We are fully committed to fostering the love for science to every New York City public school student and these kits are an incredible introduction to hydroponic farming that teach climate and the science of sustainability.”

NY Sun Works first introduced the ‘Science in a Box’ Hydroponic Kit program in September 2020. More than 5,000 kits were distributed last year, for both classroom and at-home learning.

In a 2021 study conducted by social science research organization Knology, the kits and curriculum “embody innovation, flexibility, hands-on learning, and critical thinking.

For more information on NY Sun Works, visit nysunworks.org/.

Porcelli: The Other Side of Education (1/19)

CTE Shop Class:  NOW – IT’S HIGH-TECH

Activating students’ futures

By Mike Porcelli

After decades of advocating for expanding student career opportunities, and training programs matched to their abilities and interests – both academic and vocational – I am pleased to see schools moving in that direction.

Last week, I received an invitation to an online DOE professional conference titled: “Activate Students’ Futures.”

That was the theme of my message last week, “Student success is the mission;” activating students’ futures is about preparing them for that success.

With that in mind, the mission of the Department of Education and Chancellor David Banks is to “ensure that all students graduate from high school with a strong plan, real skills and a head start towards a life aligned to their passion and purpose with a pathway to economic security.” Their vision is “for all students to be prepared with a rigorous academic foundation, real world work experience, important professional skills, a strong college and career plan and early college credits or industry credentials.”

We could not ask for any higher objectives from our schools. That’s exactly what I have been preaching for decades. Finally, the Department of Education is singing our song.

Hopefully, this end-of-the-month conference will counteract decades of misinformation about trade education and enlighten school leaders on the advantages of CTE programs for many students. Many more students then have had access to such career training, leading to every student obtaining maximum benefit from their education.

Schools providing such educational opportunities is only half of what’s necessary for student success. Students and parents must also seek out and enroll in those programs that will maximize their chances for success.

To achieve their goal of providing the right kind of training for students, the DOE has committed to building an ecosystem that supports career pathways for them. Toward that end, one year ago, Jade Grieve was appointed “Chief of Student Pathways.” Her mandate is to build an ecosystem that ensures all students have access to career pathways in high school, leading them to graduate with a “strong plan and a headstart on a pathway to the middle class.”

The Student Futures Conference is part of that effort to put every high school graduate on the road to success. This should be the goal of every education system – always.

I hope every member of the DOE attends this conference. I would even suggest attendance be mandatory, or at least, viewing a recording should be required.

For their part, to prepare for high school program selection, students and parents should view these DOE links: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/activate-your-futurehttps://cte.nyc/web/welcomehttps://cte.nyc/web/ 

For maximum future success for our city, let’s insist that all school personnel attend the conference, and encourage all students and their parents to visit the links above as soon as possible.

Here’s to the best academic and CTE programs for every student, leading to successful futures for all.

Academic & Trade Education are Two Sides of a Coin. This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.

Mike Porcelli: life-long mechanic, adjunct professor, and host of Autolab Radio, is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-porcelli-master-mechanic-allasecerts/ 

Museum of Broadway comes to Times Square

By Stephanie Meditz

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“Rent” memorabilia included costumes for Angel Dumott Schunard, Roger Davis and Mimi Marquez.

After Broadway’s longest-ever hiatus for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Museum of Broadway permanently opened its curtains on Nov. 15 to remind NYC of the joy of live theater. 

Located in Times Square in the midst of the landmark theaters it features, the Museum of Broadway allows visitors to explore a visual, interactive timeline of Broadway that spans three floors. 

The Museum was founded by Julie Boardman and Diane Nicoletti, and it traces the origins of live theater in NYC, along with iconic productions’ historical contexts and influences on both later shows and society at large. 

The first room is a hall of Playbills that features all currently running Broadway shows, followed by a brief film tracing the history of Broadway. 

It features props from some of the earliest performances in the 18th and 19th centuries, followed by Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.’s infamous “Follies” that solidified the revue as the defining style of the early 20th century. 

Classic Broadway shows with recent revivals such as “Oklahoma!”and “West Side Story” also originated in the 20th century. 

“Oklahoma!”, a collaboration by the iconic duo of Queens composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, opened on Broadway in the midst of World War II and became a household name because of the escape from reality it allowed audiences. 

Other landmark Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals include “The Sound of Music,” “Carousel,” “The King and I” and “Show Boat.” Like each show-specific room in the Museum, the “Oklahoma!” exhibit captures the show’s essence and Wild West aesthetic with rows of corn across the floor. 

The “West Side Story” room resembles an Upper West Side store in the ‘50s, complete with a “dance along” screen featuring Jerome Robbins’ choreography to the iconic tracks “America” and “Cool.” 

The room dedicated to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” features a costume worn by Michael Crawford, who originated the titular role. 

Broadway’s longest-running musical, “The Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway in 1988 and will close on April 16 of this year.

The show boasts a whopping 13,907 Broadway performances, which the Museum commemorates with a crystal to represent each one. 

From a certain angle, the crystals form the shape of the Phantom’s signature mask. 

The Museum designates one crystal for each performance of “The Phantom of the Opera,” and the crystals form the shape of the Phantom’s mask.

Other iconic artifacts include the glittery red dress worn by Ozone Park native Bernadette Peters in the 2017 revival of “Hello, Dolly!” and the matching headpiece worn by Peters, Bette Midler and Donna Murphy. 

Among the artifacts in the museum is the iconic dress and headpiece worn by Ozone Park’s Bernadette Peters in the 2017 revival of “Hello, Dolly!”

In addition to the glitz and glamor of Broadway sets and costumes, the museum does not shy away from the tragedies in Broadway’s history. 

The AIDS epidemic in the ‘80s and early ‘90s had a drastic impact on copious Broadway actors, many of whom died from the disease. 

The museum honors the lives lost with their names on the walls in a room dedicated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BCEFA), an organization dedicated to providing medical assistance to individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.

Courtesy of BCEFA, it displays the AIDS memorial quilt, a symbol of unity despite differences that bears renowned Broadway productions’ titles or identifying symbols, including “Company” and “Cats.”

The Museum provides ample unique photo ops, including a ‘70s-inspired swing as a nod to “Hair” and an Instagram filter inspired by Disney’s “The Lion King.”

In this same spirit of modernity, current or recently closed productions like “Hamilton” and “Dear Evan Hansen” receive recognition with memorabilia in the Museum. 

The polo shirt and cast worn by Sam Primack during the final performance of “Dear Evan Hansen” keep the show and its message alive, reminding visitors that they are not alone. 

With music by Cyndi Lauper, who grew up in Ozone Park and attended Richmond Hill High School, “Kinky Boots” brought love, acceptance and self-expression to Broadway for six years until its closure in 2019. 

The famous boots from “Kinky Boots.”

However, Lola’s glittery red thigh-high boots live on in the Museum. 

The Museum also displays boots worn by Lin-Manuel Miranda in the titular role of his hip-hop Broadway sensation “Hamilton,” as well as Eliza Schuyler’s trademark blue dress. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” tells the story of America’s founding with a diverse cast to represent America’s population.

Although it opened in 2015, “Hamilton” still makes theater buffs long to be in the room where it happens at the Richard Rodgers Theatre because of its interpretation of America’s past through the lens of the present. 

At the 70th Tony Awards in 2016, the show won 11 out of its 16 nominations. 

Miranda won Best Original Score, and Best Lead Actor in a Musical went to Queens native Leslie Odom Jr. for his portrayal of Aaron Burr. 

In addition to onstage action, the museum dedicates an entire floor to the often overlooked superheroes of Broadway, namely stagehands, producers, general managers, agents, makeup artists, costume designers and many others. 

With its dim lighting and real equipment, this floor simulates the feeling of being backstage at a real show.

Designed by David Rockwell and presented by https://www.broadway.com,  it details the roles of the many people besides actors who bring a show to the stage. 

The Museum also reserves space for rotating special exhibits, which is currently occupied by curator David Leopold’s “The American Theatre as seen by Hirschfeld.”

Broadway veterans such as Anthony Rapp, the original Mark Cohen in “Rent,” and Andrea McArdle, who originated the titular role in “Annie,” have recently visited the Museum. 

Tickets are available from $39 at https://www.themuseumofbroadway.com/tickets#/

The Museum will donate a portion of each ticket sale to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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