Wednesday, June 24, 2009

 TD Bank and TD Banknorth are inviting you to "Be a fan"  
of Special Olympics, June 1 - July 15!

As part of a national partnership, TD Bank and TD Your browser may not support display of this image.Banknorth are asking their customers to help them raise funds for Special Olympics through a variety of unique and fun ways.  
Here are just a few ways you can team up with them to support Special Olympics New York athletes:

  • For a $5 donation,  you can sport a cool "Be a fan" bracelet - just pick one up at any TD Bank location or TD Banknorth!
  • Is all that loose change slowing you down? Take it to TD Bank, have it converted to bills and choose to donate a portion (or maybe all?) of your conversion to Special Olympics.
  • Visit and / (starting June 1) to make an on-line donation. That's easy ! 
  • Make an in-store donation next time you're in.
  • Take part in one of their special in-store, fun events that will benefit Special Olympics. Could be a car wash, a dunk tank, a bake sale, a concert, who knows what they'll come up with? And our athletes will be attending many of these events, so you'll get to meet a hometown hero!
  • Have a commercial account with TD Bank? Talk to your account representative about how you can make a donation.
We all know that our local TD Bank branch at the corner of Metropolitan and 118th street is extraordinarily active in the community and is always willing to help with projects, events and programs for us so lets help them help the Special Olympics. Stop by today and make a donation! Thanks! - Kevin

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hunt for Gigantic Chicken Mushrooms
in Forest Park
with naturalist/author "Wildman" Steve Brill
[photos available from "Wildman"]

At 11:45 AM Saturday, Independence Day, July 4, naturalist/author "Wildman" Steve Brill will lead one of his world-famous Wild Food and Ecology Tours of Forest Park. Forest Park's woodlands, cultivated areas, and thickets make it a great place for early summer foraging, and a great place to celebrate Independence Day.

The early summer berries are spectacular here. People can't get enough red, white, or pink mulberries, no matter how many branches we shake over a drop cloth.

The black raspberries that grace the thickets provide another special treat. And if the weather conditions have been favorable, a sweet cherry tree will provide fruit much tastier than any cherries you can buy.

We'll also be finding daylily flowers in bloom. This Asian delicacy, sold in Chinatown as "golden needles," has a sweet, pungent flavor, wonderful in salads and soups, or stuffed.

Wild herbs and vegetables abound in partially sunny areas in the woods and in thickets. We'll be hunting for burdock root, greenbrier, sweet cicely, wood sorrel, field garlic, jewelweed, Asiatic dayflower, lady's thumb, mullein, black birch, and sassafras.

If it has rained beforehand, we may also find gigantic chicken mushrooms, brittle russulas, prized chanterelles, and misshapen Berkeley's polypores, as well as prized bolete mushrooms.

The 4-hour walking tour of Forest Park begins at 11:45 AM, on Independence Day, Saturday, July 4, at the stone wall at Union Turnpike and Park Lane, near the Parks Dept.'s Overlook building. The suggested donation is $15 for adults, $10 for children under 12. (Bring exact change). Nobody is ever turned away due to lack of funds.

To attend, call (914) 835-2153 at least 24 hours beforehand and reserve a place. For the 2008 tour calendar and additional info, visit,


Contact: "Wildman" Steve Brill, (914) 835-2153, wildman@wildmanstevebrill.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kew Gardens Vantage Properties Building Tenants Fed-Up - 6/16

After several weeks without an elevator in their six floor building, the residents of this Kew Gardens building on 118th street have gotten together to organize what they hope will be one large majority tenant group fighting for their building. The problems are nothing new for the building's more seasoned tenants, some of whom have lived there for over 40 years, as one of the two elevators (one serving each side of the building) has been out of service on a pretty normal frequency for years now. The problem is that for the period that this problem has been occurring the building has been under the management of the major New York company called Vantage Management who has in the last several years purchased a myriad of buildings throughout the city. The last owner was a single person who was beloved by the building's tenants but unfortunately passed away resulting in the sale of the building to Vantage. Since their purchase of the building a number of apartments have been renovated, some more so than others,  while the majority of the apartments are occupied by tenants who have lived there for years now. The lobby was renovated, hallways painted a bright yellow and carpet laid. But the most pertinent, and granted the most expensive problems, have not been dealt with. Those problems being the elevators constantly breaking down, the heat/hot water constantly not working in the cold months, the laundry room (5 washers and  driers for a 110 or so apartment building) equipment being ancient and frequently not functioning, and the list goes on. Now some may say that these are normal problems but what has this building's tenants so heated is that not only is Vantage trying to RAISE the rents of the tenants in the building who have moved into renovated apartments last year by the maximum allowed by law, but they are also trying to raise the rents on the elderly fixed income residents who have lived there for 20 to 40 years by, as reported by tenants, in some cases double what they pay now (from about $800 to $1,600), or else telling them to find a new place to live. This is not a new MO for Vantage as they have been in the news and court now for the same tactics at buildings they manage in Jackson Heights and Sunnyside and other locations. They say they are just raising rents to the legal market rate which they are allowed to do. I am no expert but even if they are technically "allowed" to do it, does that make it right? Obviously the answer is NO. In the news for other shady practices, links below, such as holding rent checks and marking customer accounts as unpaid to bring them to court for non-payment, leaving pertinent building amenities broken for long periods of time and tenant harassment to vacate old tenants, the company's public image has already been severely tarnished. Not just in the media but with the NYC Dept. of Buildings where violations and complaints are heavy. All the while the fancy contact forms and newsletters from Vantage stating their community responsibility and availability come widely unappreciated as the Vantage contact information given rarely yields a human representative, and when it does, rarely yields results or answers. 

After two weeks with no elevator Vantage placed signs throughout the building stating that the elevator will take an astounding 3-4 months to fix and in the meantime, for the many in the building that cannot use the stairs due to physical inability, there will be a porter from 4 - 8 pm to help get up and down he stairs and to help carry items back and forth, as well as a lighted walkway built on the roof so tenants may walk across to the other elevator. The porter never came. The walkway was erected, at a cost of almost $5,000 as stated by one of the builders, and then within days torn down (just last evening when the tenants at 118th street all met to form their tenant group.) One tenant reportedly called the elevator company and was told that Vantage is waiting for their insurance to cover the charges before they will repair/replace?? the elevator. 

There have been other tenant groups formed and apparently, like others have in the past year, they are getting their day in court very shortly. Hopefully for the tenants on 118th street the city will come to the rescue and enforce building code laws and moral and professional standards. It is just too bad that the busy hard working tenants of all of these buildings have to take their personal time to do research, form tenant groups, get lawyers, talk to their city council representatives and make a big deal all in order to simply be treated how they are supposed to be. Maybe a good lesson, apparently only in the courtroom for Vantage, on the ethic of reciprocity is just what the doctor ordered.  


Friday, June 12, 2009

The New Urbanism - Lecture - 6/17

Barry Lewis will be discussing The New Urbanism: 1910-1931on Wednesday, June 17, 8-9:30pm, Kew Gardens Community Center (80-02 Kew Gardens Road, Suite 202) . This is a FREE lecture sponsored by the Kew Gardens Council for Recreation and the Arts, Inc. (718) 263-7180 and supported by a NY State grant from Senator Shirley Huntley. LIMITED SEATING & ID REQUIRED

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

CHOWHOUND Thread on Bagels in Queens

Best Bagels in Queens?

I'm seaching for the best & freshest bagel in Queens. I've read about a lot of places that have good or decent bagels, but haven't found many posts about bagels that people LOVE. My personal favorite is Ess A Bagel in Manhattan because of their freshness and doughiness to crispness ratio. Any suggestions would be great!

See the entire thread HERE. 

Free Yoga in the Park - Every Saturday Morning from 10 - 11 am

For those of you who have not joined us at the new Kew Gardens Free Yoga in the Park class, maybe you got lost on the way? Here is a panorama of pics that show exactly where we meet in Sobelsohn park, the most northern tip of Forest Park, in Kew Gardens between Park Lane and Union tpk behind the baseball diamond under the big tree. 

Big Thanks to TD Bank and the 102 Precinct and their Youth Explorers

Their help was integral on making the Kew Gardens Community Day a big success

Monday, June 8, 2009

Forest Hills Times Article on City Council Race - 6/2

Strictly Stasi
by Anthony Stasi
Jun 02, 2009 | 122 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Melquiades (Mel) Gagarin is running for the City Council in what still looks like a competitive field in the 29th district in the Kew Gardens and Forest Hills sections of Queens. The politics in Kew Gardens are not terribly hard to define. The overwhelmingly Democratic district will most likely only see a race in this year's Democratic primary and not the general election. 

Read the entire article HERE. 

Kew Gardens Community Day Photos - 6/7

Here's a few, more to come..

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Haiti Fundraiser and Exhibition - Summer Rooftop Party - June 27

This is not a Kew Gardens Event but one that I am supporting and working with directly with my work with the United Nations Association. We are having big rooftop summer fundraiser party in Greenpoint on June 27. It will be an all day/night event featuring a great exhibition of contemporary Haitian art, music, food, beer, wine, etc. Come support a great cause! 


The Haiti Expedition Project (THEP) is proud to invite you to our second 2009 Summer event. We will be presenting a selling exhibition of paintings by the contemporary Haitian artist Gaalo (Herve Sabin). Proceeds from the exhibition will go to support the work of THEP in education, environment and infrastructure in Haiti. 

The exhibition will begin at 3:33 on Saturday June 27th 2009 (Herve's 33rd birthday) Summer food on the rooftop grill will be available until 6:30 and after 6:30 Haitian specialties and Caribbean food and appetizers will be served. There will be live music all day and night and the music, food and drinks will go all night long! 

Admission is $10 which will include 1 drink ticket and food. There will be a cash bar with plenty of economically priced beer, wine and cocktails as well as some extraordinary and some ordinary hors d'oeuvres. Live music will be going on all day and night inside and out at the CEEFLAT's amazing and huge rooftop lounge which will be open to relax and enjoy the artwork of the CEEFLAT's owners - Kevin Corcoran and Peter Bragino as well as the summertime Manhattan skyline. Remember to get your hand stamped at the door if you come early and want to return in the evening! 

Come get engaged. Come Help make a difference in Haiti. Come have fun with us while you do it! ALL proceeds from this event will be supporting our initiatives in education, environment and infrastructure in Haiti. If you are planning on going out this day/night don't go spend money that won't be supporting a great cause, we will have everything you want and every dollar you spend with us supports important work. We need everyone there so don't miss this opportunity to participate in a great cause and an amazing NYC summer party!

Event Sponsors: 
The United Nations Association - YPIC - SNY
Fiji Water 
Herve Sabin (Gaalo)
Pio Pio Riko
Harlem Brewery

(If you would like to become a sponsor or help with sponsorship/donors, please email me at 
More info TBA!!!

RSVP HERE and to

June 20 - 102nd Precinct Graffiti Cleanup

Any volunteers that want to assist the 102nd precinct and their junior explorers with graffiti cleanup on June 20 please email us at They will have the NYC Graffiti cleanup truck out here to help out and there are a lot of spots that need done so the more volunteers we have the more graffiti we can get cleaned. We will meet at the 102nd precinct headquarters. Please let us know by June 19 so we can arrange for all of the volunteers jobs and breakfast. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Queens Courier Article on Forest Hills - 6/4

LIVING IN FOREST HILLS: Suburban living in the city

BY PETE DAVIS Thursday, June 4, 2009 10:13 AM EDT

Some described it as a suburb in a city. Others talked about the rich history of the neighborhood that goes back more than 100 years. Some spoke about the quality schools and recreational opportunities at the beautiful parks. Still others talked about the diverse business community and fabulous group of restaurants.

This area is Forest Hills. A diverse community located in central Queens, Forest Hills is an upscale, tranquil, clean neighborhood in the backyard of Manhattan.

Read the entire article HERE. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pooch Parade and Cat Photo Contest Info - KG Community Day

Much to do in Kew Gardens This Weekend!

So Saturday June 6 will be our second Free Saturday Yoga in the Park class from 10 - 11am behind the Overlook in Forest Park. Our first last week was really great and there was a big turnout of participants and interested onlookers. Make sure to come by this Saturday! All are welcome! 

Then Sunday June 7 is the Kew Gardens Community Day and there will be a myriad of fun events and things to do all over KG for most of the day. Make sure to send us your photos for the Cat Photo Contest (the prize is really cool for cat owners and the winner will be decided on Sunday and the winning picture will be in the Queens Tribune and here!) See below for more info on the day's activities! 

Another New Restaurant Coming to Kew Gardens

This spot has been closed for over a year now, I think it was some sort of fusion place before. It is at the end of the row of stores on the south side of Metropolitan at Lefferts.  Now it looks like it is going to be an Italian restaurant with a brick oven. My fingers are crossed for the place and especially that they actually have a real brick oven, which would be really cool! No idea as to an eta on opening but we'll look into it.