Trail or Rail?

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In a densely populated area of central Queens, a coalition of local residents and the Trust for Public Land are working to create new open space from a partially elevated rail line built in the 1800s. The line originally connected the Rockaways neighborhood in the south to the main train tracks in the central part of Queens. Service was eventually stopped in 1962. Now the line sits abandoned, the property overrun.

The Trust for Public Land is urging the landlord, The City of New York, to transform this 3.5-mile stretch of abandoned rail line into an elevated pedestrian and bicycle pathway connecting the communities of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Richmond Hill, Glendale, Woodhaven, and Ozone Park. The QueensWay, as it is being hailed, is designated to be the Queens equivalent of Manhattan’s highly successful Highline, which turned an elevated rail line into a park, creating open space and driving economic development in an underserved part of the city.

The project will have 3.5 miles of walking and biking paths and offer a recreational experience for all ages. Central to the park’s design are access points to the neighborhoods; they’ve even drawn a map highlighting foods of each neighborhood to mirror the diversity of Queens. Early design ideas for the Rego Park portion of the QueensWay include a habitat wetland area, a children’s adventure playground and multipurpose seating areas near the Forest Hills Little League baseball fields.

The naysayers would like to see train service restored along the line, citing its’ importance to commuters from the Rockaways to other parts of Queens and/or to New York City. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which would run the trains, has cited they have no plans to bring service back to the line. Residents who live next to the track have voiced their concerns about privacy issues. The Trust for Public Land have calmed those fears with promised vegetation and public art to provide natural barriers, and not infringe on their quality of life.

The Trust for Public Land has raised about $3 million for design studies. It believes it can raise the rest from a mix of city, state, federal and private sources, and hopes to start construction within the next three years. All that is needed now is a commitment from City Hall.

“We look forward to continuing conversations with stakeholders about the future of this asset,” said a spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Comments from random spectators have drawn only favorable reactions from Queens residents. If given the green light, QueensWay will alter the landscape of our borough forever.

What’s your opinion – park or track . . . trail or rail?

Get Your (Tennis) Game On

 

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The US Open, the biggest pro tennis event in the United States (and one of the four Grand Slam tournaments that are the sport’s most prestigious), returns to Flushing Meadows Corona Park August 29th through September 11th.  Opening night traditionally brings a lot of star power to the BJKNTC to entertain the crowds, but the line-up for the 2016 season is still under wraps. Stay tuned for details.

There have been some pretty major changes made to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the year.  For openers, the long-awaited retractable roof has been completed. This means no more weather-related cancellations . . . a bonus for the players and ticket holders alike.

Actually, most of the grounds have been renovated. The changes don’t stop at the roof. The USTA says they’ve upgraded 85 percent of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center—renovating almost all of the side courts and adding seating which will increase total capacity on those courts by more than a third. They’ve also expanded walkways and added more concessions throughout the grounds. Options include Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, the upscale Aces wine and sushi bar, a glatt kosher cart and even a Carnegie Deli outpost. Bargain seekers can hit the street vendors near the grounds, too, though security won’t let you enter with outside snacks.

There’s also a brand-new 8,000-seat grandstand stadium, to replace the old one slated for demolition after this year’s tournament. In the years to come, the USTA plans for a new Louis Armstrong Stadium, with a retractable roof like the one on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Though this is tennis at its highest level, you can still pay as little as $35.00 (before fees) for an opening-night or early evening session ticket.  Admission  for Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on August 27th is only $10.00. This year’s iteration of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day is scheduled to include music from Flo Rida, Zara Larsson, Forever in Your Mind and others. There will also be interactive and entertaining tennis-related fun, including appearances by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

You can also attend—for free—the qualifying tournament (August 23–26), in which ambitious players battle for a berth in the main tournament, and practice day, August 28, when the stars hone their game in preparation for their moment in the spotlight.

Some helpful hints;

Use public transit. Parking is tough, and a spot will set you back $23.

If you are outside for a day session wear a hat and sunglasses, and apply plenty of sunscreen. Don’t forget to hydrate.  Seriously!

Like other big events, the US Open has a lengthy list of what is and is not allowed. Do yourself a favor and read up to prevent that awkward moment when you’re stopped at the gate because you can’t bring your doggy in to sit with you.

You don’t need a courtside ticket to get a great view—you just need to know where to look. If you buy a grounds pass, you’ll be able to see the pros at very close range on the numerous side courts, at a fraction of the cost of a courtside seat in one of  Stadiums.

Tickets for the event, and for Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, can be purchased at usopen.org, by calling Ticketmaster at 1-866-OPEN-TIX, at all Ticketmaster outlets or at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center box office.

US Open Tennis Championships

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Flushing, New York 11368

718- 760-6200

 

Google + Queens Library = Free Coding For Kids

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Queens’s youngsters interested in coding will be able to learn from the best when Google begins teaching free coding classes this fall at twenty-six Queens Library locations.  This is the first time Google has partnered with a library to offer these free classes.

“Computer science skills are critical to for the success of our youth and our country,” said William Floyd, Google’s head of public affairs for New York. “ By 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be 1 million more computer science jobs than graduating students who qualify to fill them. Google is proud to work with the Queens Library to educate and empower this next generation through CS education.”

The CS First clubs were created for students ages 9 to 14 and offer about 10 hours’ worth of coding lessons and activities. Students will be exposed to a curriculum following seven different themes including art, music and sound and game design to apply coding in a real-world context, according to a press release.

Children participating in the CS First club will be instructed in a vast variety of topics;

High Seas  – High Seas is an introductory activity designed for use in a classroom setting or at a conference, hackathon, or other event.  It is a one-time, standalone activity and not part of a regular CS First theme or club, so it does not use/provide printed materials, usernames, or passwords.

Storytelling – Students use computer science to tell fun and interactive stories. Storytelling emphasizes creativity by encouraging club members to tell a unique story each day.

Friends – Students are encouraged to sign up with a friend or make a new friend in the club. Friends emphasizes teamwork by allowing club members to tell the story of how their friendship started and imagine a company together.

Fashion & Design- Students learn how computer science and technology are used in the fashion industry while building fashion-themed programs, like a fashion walk, a stylist tool, and a pattern maker.

Art -Students create animations, interactive artwork, photograph filters, and other exciting, artistic projects.

Social Media – Students create fun social media style applications and games while learning about the computer science concepts that enable these programs to work.

Sports – Students use computer science to simulate extreme sports, make their own fitness gadget commercial, and create commentary for a big sporting event.

Music & Sound – Students use the computer to play musical notes, create a music video, and build an interactive music display while learning how programming is used to create music.

Game Design – Students learn basic video game coding concepts by making different types of games, including racing, platform, launching, and more!

Animation – BETA Advanced is an advanced curriculum, which means it teaches new concepts that are recommended for students who have already participated in at least two other CS First themes. – Students create fun and complex animated projects.

Twenty high school students will be recruited to become apprentices and will receive high school credit through an ExpandEd program.

“Offering children computer science activities in a relaxed, informal setting will stimulate their natural curiosity and help develop skills that will be useful to them throughout their academic and professional lives,” said Dennis M. Walcott, president and CEO of Queens Library. “The public library is the perfect place for exploring. Queens Library appreciates Google’s partnership in bringing digital literacy to library users, young and old.”

Queens Library hopes to sign up more than 300 kids. Children must pre-register and will be chosen randomly.  Check the Rego Park Library for more information, including start-up date.

http://www.queenslibrary.org/slide-show-content/kids-get-coding-at-our-google-cs-first-launch

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Where Are You Going?

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Whether you’re 8 years old, or 80 years young, we’ve all asked the question,  “How do airplanes fly?”   Or maybe, “What keeps a boat afloat so it doesn’t sink?”   Different modes of transportation, and its’ technology, are the theme of the on going ‘Going Places’ exhibit at the New York Hall of Science.

Through hands-on exploration travelers will experience the thrill of piloting a plane without leaving the ground in an airplane-shaped flight simulator.  They will float across the floor riding a mini hover disk while learning how the cushion of air allows hovercrafts to travel across roads, sand, water and more.  They will challenge themselves to guide a blimp through sky hoops.  So, it really doesn’t matter if you’re 8 or 80, everyone will have fun while learning how Earth’s size and natural processes like gravity, wind, currents, waves, friction and changing landscapes are overcome by the ingenious designs of travel technology.

Other Going Places exhibits include;

Land Yacht – Sail a tabletop land yacht against perilous winds.

Transport Footprint – Take the carbon challenge to find out what impact your travel is having on the planet and how you can reduce your carbon footprint.

Big Engine – See how air and fuel are used to create thrust, and why the modern engine is one of the cheapest and most efficient energy providers on the planet.

Aeroplane Mobile – Try and get the giant aeroplane mobile to spin.

Virtual Traffic Controller – Work cooperatively with other visitors to keep the traffic flow in this virtual city moving smoothly.

Design Your Ride – Design the next big transportation innovation at this brainstorming idea table.

Load the Car – Attempt to fit all the bags and gear into a typical car trunk.

Shifting Steel – See if you can shift a heavy weight on nothing but air.

Virtual Earth – Rotate the virtual Earth, while considering the amazing technology that enables us to explore the globe.

Luggage Loader – Test your sorting and packing skills in this high-tech game.

Sit Down – See, feel and sit in a range of different seats from sporty to luxurious, and learn how science has helped us design seats to make our journeys more comfortable.

Vehicle Jigsaw – In this digital game, choose from aerodynamic profiles, engine and wheel types, and then find out how far your car can go on a tank of fuel.

Recumbent Racer – Race a friend to find out which type of bicycle travels fastest – a recumbent or racer.

Admission to this fascinating exhibit is free with NYSCI membership; non-member tickets available for sale at box-office or http://nysci.org/event/going-places-the-technology-of-transport/

Going Places

New York Hall of Science

47-01 111th Street

Corona, New York

718-699-0005

Through September 18, 2016

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Up Close (And Personal) with The Alexander Resident Josh Rhett Noble

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A recent conversation with your neighbor, Josh Rhett Noble has given us incredible insight into how the enjoyment of living at The Alexander at Rego Center has impacted him.

When did you move to The Alexander?
June 1, 2016

What area (s) did you reside in prior to moving to The Alexander?
Sunnyside, Queens

Why did you decide to move at this time?
I was looking for an apartment with more space that was still in Queens.  I absolutely love the diversity and vibe of Queens and knew I wanted to stay in this wonderful borough.

What were your priorities when you were searching for a new residence/location?
Definitely space, location and pet friendly.

Where else did you look and why didn’t those choices work for you?
Various locations in Queens, including Astoria, Long Island City and Sunnyside.  Unfortunately, I simply couldn’t find a building with the combination of space, amenities and proximity to transit that fit into my budget.  But, then I found The Alexander.

How did you hear about The Alexander?
I saw the building under construction when I was shopping at Rego Center, then I did a Google search and read more about it.  So happy I found it!

What were some of the deciding factors in choosing The Alexander?
There are so many wonderful aspects to The Alexander.  The building and property are gorgeous. The modern decor, the beautiful floors, the quartz countertops in the kitchen and bath…and, not to mention the luxury of having a washer/dryer IN your unit…and a dishwasher.  None of which I had prior to moving.  Also, the fact that it’s pet friendly is essential.

Was commuting/location a factor?
As an actor, I always want to be able to get into Manhattan within a decent amount of time for shoots, classes and auditions.  Luckily, The Alexander is right off the M/R line and my commute is an easy one.  Also, being so centrally located to both JFK and LaGuardia Airport is fantastic.

What are your feelings about the surrounding Rego Park area, i.e. convenience of the train nearby, retail below, established neighborhood compared to still-emerging areas like Long Island City?
Sometimes I feel like I am on constant vacation living at The Alexander because of the HUGE amount of stores, shops and restaurants to visit.  It truly is like living within a shopping destination, but with the added spice of walking over to Queens Blvd. to experience local restaurants, “mom & pop” stores and more.

What type of apartment did you rent; how many bedrooms, what floor, views?
I opted for the “Residence F” line.  It’s a one bedroom, one bathroom with an additional office.  I love the great views of Citi Field, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park with its iconic structures from the New York World’s Fair, Forest Hills and the surrounding area.

What was it about that specific apartment/floor plan that you liked?
It’s perfect with the extra space for when company visits and to have a separate office space to utilize.  Being on the 20th floor gives the apartment fantastic light with extra tall ceilings and over 800 square feet of living space.

Thoughts on the building’s amenities?
All of the amenity areas are stunning.  Since the building is brand-spanking new, you feel like you are in a luxury hotel more than a residence in Queens. The gym is very well equipped and even has an outdoor yoga space with grass. The Lounge and Game Room offer tons of extra lounging space if you want to escape your apartment.  Both are beautifully decorated with multiple TVs, areas for work on your laptop, a pool table, games and more.  The outdoor space is gorgeous with ample seating all around the building’s exterior, 4 huge gas grills that are available for us and a constant breeze that cools you off even on the hottest of days.

Have you met or interacted with your neighbors in the building?  Is there a social atmosphere?
The Alexander is very proactive in getting the neighbors to mingle and meet.  I attended a wonderful “Meet & Greet” right before moving in for all new residents.  Everyone is so friendly and from all walks of life. They even schedule “Ice Cream” socials during the summer.  Brilliant!

Anything else you’d like to point?
I have to say, more than anything, that the team of people working at The Alexander are beyond top-notch.  It was the biggest deciding factor on choosing this as home.  Everyone from the leasing agents, the management, the maintenance to the concierge. You won’t find a better crew of people to welcome you each and every day.

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A Sky Full of Stars

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Lounge with your neighbors on the beautifully landscaped terrace at The Alexander this Fourth of July.  There’s plenty of gorgeous green space for a blanket, or choose a comfy chair to witness the sky fill with an array of vibrant colors and intrinsic designs as we celebrate our great country’s birthday. There’s no better place in Queens for a ringside seat to enjoy the magnificent firework show that will originate from CitiField tomorrow, following the Mets/Rangers game.  You might even see the memorable Macy’s display which, this year, has been relocated to the New York side of the East River, promising a better view to the residents of western Queens.   Ooohs and Aaahs guaranteed!

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Get Hip With Shakespeare

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If it’s summer time in Queens, then the borough’s magnificent parks are once again filled with free Shakespeare, courtesy of Hip-to-Hip Theatre Co.

Now in its eighth season, the Woodside-based theater group — founded by husband-and-wife acting team Jason and Joy Marr — kicks things off July 23 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park with “Cymbeline.” One of the bard’s later works, “Cymbeline” may not have the name recognition of a “King Lear” or “Macbeth,” but it fits nicely into Hip to Hip’s mission of balancing a silly comedy with something more dramatic.

This year’s silliness comes by way of “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” which tells the story of the foolish way people in love usually act. Hip to Hip plans on staging the comedy in the classic Commedia dell’arte style, including the use of stock characters in masques.

The ever popular pre-curtain children’s program returns. Offered 30 minutes prior to each performance, the workshops include games and word play to help the younger audience members get a better grasp of the language and storyline. Lots of parents attend as well, using the workshops as an opportunity to brush up on their Shakespeare.

Coming to a park near you . . .

“Cymbeline”

July 23 – 7 :00p.m.  Flushing Meadows Corona Park

July 26 – 7:00 p.m.  St. Albans Park

July 30 – 7:00 p.m.  Voelker Orth Museum

August 1- 7:00 p.m.  Sunnyside Gardens Park

August 3 – 4:30 p.m.  Socrates Sculpture Park

August 7 – 7 :00p.m.  Crocheron Park

August 9 – 7:00 p.m.  Gantry Plaza State Park

August 14 – 7:30 p.m  Cunningham Park

“Two Gentlemen of Verona”

July 24 – 7 :00 p.m. Crocheron Park

July 25 – 7:00 p.m.  Lost Battalion Rec Center

July 31- 7:30 p.m.  Cunningham Park

August 2 – 7:00 p.m.  Gantry Plaza State Park

August 6 –  7 :00 p.m.  Flushing Meadows Corona Park

August 8 – 7 :00 p.m.  Sunnyside Gardens Park

August 10 – 4:30 p.m.  Socrates Sculpture Park

August 13 -7:00 p.m.  Voelker Orth Museum

Many of these parks are approximately a 15-20 minute distance from The Alexander at Rego Center. The Lost Battalion Recreation Center, scene of Two Gentlemen of Verona on July 25th, is located in Rego Park at 93-29 Queens Boulevard.

http://www.hiptohip.org/

Let’s Rock!

1465611925_13418547_10154276186794485_5705518325760298417_oThe 2nd Annual Battle of the Bands is heating up. This year the competition is fiercer than ever, and bands of every musical genre will rock out at the 2,100-seat Colden Auditorium at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts to win the Best Band in Queens title.

THE 2ND ANNUAL BATTLE OF THE BANDS CONTESTANTS

  • Chiv Culture
  • Global Warming
  • Noise on 93rd
  • Noni Rene and The Village
  • Psychonaut Underground
  • Roslyn School of Rock House Band
  • Summer Haze

Ralph McDaniels from Video Music Box will be the official MC for this free event.  

Queens Library programs are a free to the public; however tickets are limited to 4 per individual. Free parking is available at the parking lot adjacent to Colden Auditorium.  Parking is first come, first served.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

6:00 pm – 8:00pm

Queens College

Colden Auditorium at Kupferberg Center for the Arts

65-30 Kissena Boulevard

Flushing, NY 11367

Korean Theatre Festival Arrives in Queens

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Ten years ago the inaugural Korean Theatre Festival arrived in New York with founder Du-Yee Chang performing an original one-man show based on one of Franz Kafka’s novels. Chang, along with 16 other performers from various Seoul theater companies, descend on The Secret Theatre in Long Island City from June 29th through July 3rd to stage three plays as part of the fourth edition of the festival dedicated to Korean theater.

Chang sees the event as a sort of cultural exchange to introduce American audiences to traditional Korean theater. “When we do a Shakespeare play, we are not doing it in an Elizabethan style,” Chang said. “We transform it so Korean audiences can feel familiar with it. It is sort of like how in America, ‘Romeo & Juliet’ became ‘West Side Story.’”

No large-scale musicals are on tap for this year’s festival, but Chang said the three plays scheduled show the variety of what is happening in Korean theater.

“Counselor,” written and directed by Hyun Suk Cha, revolves around the owner of a coffee shop, who offers advice to emotionally and mentally wounded patrons, but who has no memory of his own past. “This is a very modern Korean play,” Chang said. “It is really an interesting psychological drama — like a Harold Pinter play.”

In “The Genius Magician, Young-Sil Chang,” a young magician is the reincarnation of a genius inventor from the 15th-century Chosun Dynasty. Living in a beautiful fictional world, the young magician uses his powers to fight those set on destroying nature.

Both plays will be performed with subtitles displaying English translations of the dialogue.

Although “Same Story, Different Day,” a piece written to mark the 65th Anniversary of the Korean War, will be performed without titles, Chang believes the story will be understood by English-speaking audience members with its use of movement and pantomime.

Although Korean ex-patriots are most likely to attend the festival, Chang hopes to reach plenty of American theatergoers as well.

“We are aiming for both,” he said. “For New Yorkers, these are good plays for theater performances. Korean theater can introduce a different dimension or style.”

June 29 through July 3

Korean Theatre Festival in New York

Secret Theatre

44-02 23rd St., Long Island City

Cost: $10/general, $7/seniors and students

(718) 392-0722

www.secrettheatre.com

Street Art on Welling Court

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If you want to get lost in the magic of street art, spend a day exploring Welling Court, and the nooks and crannies of its neighboring streets.

Graffiti, once considered acts of vandalism, has become a popular art form.  Public acceptance brought respectability to the artists and their creations, and ultimately led to legitimizing this art form as street art.

Street artists are wildly talented and creative, with most using street art as a means to make a statement.  One such artist was Keith Haring whose works consisted of themes related to anti-Apartheid, AIDS awareness, and the crack cocaine epidemic.  Later, he branched out to commercialism and created pop art pieces for major companies, then on to images of famous personalities.

Banksy is known throughout the world for his satirical renderings relating to political and social commentary.  His forte of blending dark humor with graffiti has become the easily recognizable street art belonging to this talented stencil artist.

Check out the 7th Annual Welling Court Mural Project and see the creativity of some of our local street artists before they become as famous as Haring and Banksy.  It’s a treasure trove of talent waiting to be discovered.

With the participating artists spanning over 5 decades of public work, the Welling Court Mural Project is by far one of the best collections of contemporary street culture on the planet, all within this hidden gem of NYC!  Always free and open to the public 24/7/365.  Don’t forget to wear your comfy kicks.

Welling Court Mural Project

11-98 Welling Court (30th Avenue)

Astoria, New York 11102

http://adhocart.org/site/category/welling-court/

Cross streets include Astoria Boulevard, 21st Street, and Vernon Boulevard.

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