Hot Dog!

Interstate Bakeries opts to keep Jamaica factory running, retaining hundreds of jobs

Interstate Bakeries opts to keep Jamaica factory running, retaining hundreds of jobs

Crain’s New York

Hot dogs won’t lack buns in Queens

By Hilary Potkewitz

Published: February 22, 2009 – 5:59 am

Residents of Jamaica, Queens, can sleep soundly. Their buns are staying in the oven.

After emerging from bankruptcy early this month, Interstate Bakeries Corp. wasted no time in trumpeting the glad tidings: Its Jamaica factory, the city’s largest maker of hot dog rolls, will remain open. The century-old plant on 268th Street and Douglas Avenue has about 350 full-time and more than 100 part-time workers. Its products are made under the Wonder Bread and Nature’s Pride labels.

“This was extraordinary news for us,” says Richard Werber, director of the business services group at the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. “We want to hold on to those manufacturing companies, because generally speaking, their jobs pay far better than retail jobs and provide a clearer and higher ladder for advancement.”

About 70% of the plant’s employees live in Queens, according to GJDC data. Kansas City-based Interstate filed for Chapter 11 in 2004. It has closed several facilities in the Midwest, eliminating hundreds of jobs.

Though the Jamaica plant isn’t Interstate’s most advanced facility, New York is one of the company’s largest markets, so keeping production here made sense, according to Interstate.

As a bonus, New York ranks No. 1 in the nation’s top 10 hot dog-eating cities, buying about $113 million worth of franks a year, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council’s most recent survey. That’s not surprising, given the Big Apple’s multiple sports arenas, Coney Island’s Nathan’s Famous and an army of street vendors.

Queens also has bragging rights in that Shea Stadium beat out other Major League Baseball venues in the all-important hot dog sales standings, the council says. Mets fans ate more than 2 million dogs—with buns—last season, barely six miles from Interstate Bakeries’ cargo bay.


Queens is Ready to Puck Around

SKATING SOON at a rink near you - the Iron Triangle Islanders?

SKATING SOON at a rink near you - the Iron Triangle Islanders?

From the NY Daily News

Could Isles net the Point? Plan pushes Iron Triangle home

BY Nicholas Hirshon
Tuesday, February 10th 2009, 10:45 AM

SKATING SOON at a rink near you – the Iron Triangle Islanders?

The Queens Chamber of Commerce is making a long-shot bid to lure the four-time Stanley Cup champions from Nassau County as part of redevelopment plans for Willets Point, a maze of auto body shops near Citi Field.

The Islanders – who are reportedly mulling a move in case plans fall through to revamp their arena, the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, L.I. – declined to comment on the Willets Point proposal.

Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Jack Friedman noted the Isles’ Coliseum lease expires in 2015, near the anticipated opening of a Willets Point convention center.

“Queens makes sense [for the Islanders] from so many levels because of the airports and its central location,” Friedman said, also noting the area’s proximity to highways and subways.

But Yale University Prof. Charles Euchner, an expert on sports team relocations, mocked Willets Point as a “half-baked” option because it would require too many infrastructure changes.

The Islanders stoked speculation about a move last month by scheduling a preseason game for September in Kansas City, which opened a state-of-the-art arena in 2007 and has been trying ever since to land a National Hockey League franchise.

The Isles are also moving their training camp in Canada from New Brunswick to Saskatoon, a puck-wild city that gunned for the St. Louis Blues in 1983.

Meanwhile, Islanders owner Charles Wang has reportedly grown impatient with Nassau officials for taking years to okay his project to renovate the Coliseum and redevelop the nearby area with shops and restaurants.

A spokesman for the Town of Hempstead board, which must approve Wang’s plans, said its members are “anxious to do everything we can to keep” the Islanders in Uniondale.

But Friedman isn’t alone in asking Wang, a Queens College grad, to consider a change.

Asked about hosting the Isles, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said she would be “very receptive” while the city announced it’s “open” to letting the team play in a Queens park.

City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) said the Isles should relocate to Queens to escape the Coliseum mess while staying near fans in Nassau and Suffolk – a scenario that neither Kansas City nor Saskatoon can offer.

“A hockey team like the Islanders enjoys a strong fan base,” Liu said of the local following the team has built over four decades. “Their enterprise is not like a warehouse you could plunk in the middle of anywhere.”

Even Mets third baseman David Wright was willing to share the borough’s sports scene.

“I’d recommend it,” Wright said of an Isles move. “I would endorse playing in Queens.”

World’s Fair map could be in peril

Benepe viewing World's Fair Map

Benepe viewing World's Fair Map

From NY Daily News

The city has let ice blanket a faux-marble road map from the 1964 World’s Fair multiple times this winter instead of dishing out $20,000 to protect the cartographic curiosity, Queens News has learned.

Preservationists fear frost will dislodge or fracture panels on the 9,000-square-foot map in the New York State Pavilion, a crumbling, yet iconic, relic of the fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Even more galling to preservationists is that conservators devised a shelter plan for the map just last year — to bury its panels under fabric, sand and gravel, blocking water and sunlight that feeds crack-widening weeds. But the city still hasn’t carried it out.

The interior of the New York State Pavillion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park where a giant roadmap of New York State from the 1964 Worlds Fair is in danger of cracking due to extreme weather conditions.

The interior of the New York State Pavillion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park where a giant roadmap of New York State from the 1964 Worlds Fair is in danger of cracking due to extreme weather conditions.

“I don’t understand why it’s taking so long,” said Professor Frank Matero, a preservation expert at the University of Pennsylvania, who helped develop the never-implemented program.

John Krawchuk, historic preservation director for the Parks Department, said the city bought enough fabric and some sand for Matero’s plan, but stopped $20,000 short of paying for all the required materials.

He admitted the city has the cash but decided to direct it elsewhere. “We have many needs throughout the entire parks system that are always competing for funds,” he said.

Instead, the city is hoping Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Administrator Estelle Cooper can raise $20,000 through a park-oriented nonprofit she runs, before springtime sun nourishes the weeds, Krawchuk said.

But preservationists wondered how the city undertook a project to remove and restore parts of the 567-panel map in 2007 — through a $40,000 grant and $80,000 in city funds — with little foresight for the rest of the map.

The city’s refusal to foot the $20,000 bill reminded history buffs of how the once-grand pavilion was allowed to deteriorate for four decades after the fair closed in 1965.

“It really shows neglect is a theme with this structure,” said Greg Godfrey, president of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park World’s Fair Association.

“If their end result was to preserve [the map], why would you start ripping out parts without having a strategy for the entire?” Godfrey asked.

Contractor Vincent DeLazzero, whose late father, Robert, built the road map while heading Bronx-based Port Morris Tile & Terrazzo, also blasted the city’s disregard for the panels.

“It’s a treasure,” said DeLazzero, adding he would have helped raise $20,000 if the city had contacted him. “There’s never been anything like it.”

Meanwhile, the city is reviewing the results of a $200,000 study on the stability of the pavilion’s Tent of Tomorrow rotunda — the columns and cable-suspension roof that surround the map.

“Demolition is always a possibility,” Krawchuk warned

There Used to be a Ballpark

There Used to be a Ballpark – Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium and Ebbet’s Field, home to the “Boys of Summer.”

It’s called progress!




Marshall Backs Effort To Honor Park Activist David Oats

Queens Tribune

Marshall Backs Effort To Honor Park Activist

David Oats
By Brian M. Rafferty

David Oats loved Flushing Meadows Corona Park. One of his first assignments as a young reporter was to speak with Robert Moses, the visionary power broker who masterminded so much of the development in the city – as well as the creation of the park and its second World’s Fair.

The meeting between Oats and Moses created a lasting bond between the young reporter and the park that stands in the heart of the borough he called home.

Oats, who died suddenly on Feb. 5, 2008, spent a large portion of his career as editor of the Queens Tribune, but never lost touch with his first love – Flushing Meadows. When he retired from newspapers he continued to work tirelessly as an advocate for the park, even going so far as to travel to Europe to advocate both for a third world’s fair and for the park’s use as a venue for the Olympics.

David Oats

David Oats

Oats saw the park as a dynamic location, filled with the energy of not just the people who use it, but the events that have taken place there through the years. In short, the park was his first true love – a love that filled his heart until the day he died.

It is fitting, then, that a year after his death, a portion of the park may be named for him. The idea, first touted by this paper in the days after Oats’ death, is supported by this newspaper, its publisher, Oats’ widow and Borough President Helen Marshall.

Marshall has asked New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe to rename the promenade around the Unisphere after this fierce park advocate.

“David loved the park and Queens, and I am happy to support this effort to provide some sort of fitting memorial to him for all he did for Flushing Meadows Corona Park,” Marshall said Wednesday.

The letter asks for Benepe’s aid in officially naming the pathway surrounding the Unisphere for Oats.

“He was a dedicated Queens historian and preservationist who devoted his time and energy to ensuring the lasting legacy of the 1939 and 1964 World Fairs,” Marshall wrote. “He worked tirelessly as an advocate for park lovers who cherish our borough’s flagship park… As the first anniversary of his death approaches, it is fitting to now memorialize his efforts on behalf of the park and our Borough’s residents.”

North Flushing Says “NO” To McMansions

Homeowners group head Sandi Viviani and civic group head Tyler Cassell say "No" to McMansions.

Homeowners group head Sandi Viviani and civic group head Tyler Cassell say "No" to McMansions.


Homeowners group head Sandi Viviani and civic group head Tyler Cassell have been working on new Flushing zoning.

In an effort to ward off oversized McMansions, city planners have proposed new zoning for 257 blocks in northern Flushing.

The plan is designed to help the area keep its look and feel of mostly single-family homes and attached Tudors on tree-lined streets.

The proposed zoning changes are “long overdue,” said City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

“New construction has been destroying the quality of life,” said Avella, who lobbied hard for the rezoning, which includes a new zoning category for larger one-family lots.

The proposal applies to an area roughly bounded by Union St. on the west, the Clearview Expressway and Francis Lewis Blvd. on the east, Northern Blvd. and Station Road to the south and 25th Ave. to the north.

The complex plan includes several different types of zoning. It is to be discussed at 7 p.m. Thursday at a joint Community Board 7 and Community Board 11 public hearing at Holy Cross High School.

“We are proposing new zoning that will safeguard the character of this beautiful, lower-density community,” said City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden.

The plan would replace outdated zoning that dates to 1962, and “establish a low-scale regulatory framework to ensure that future development matches neighborhood character,” Burden said.

Tyler Cassell, president of the North Flushing Civic Association, applauded the move.

“We have been hoping for this for the past 10 years,” said Cassell, who sits on a zoning committee with members of both community boards.


Grace Meng, Jimmy Meng & Caroline Meng


Assemblywoman Grace Meng

On a snowy Sunday morning in Bay Terrace, a few early birds sitting in the Cafe were discussing Newly-elected Assemblywoman Grace Meng who took her oath of office in Flushing on Saturday at a ceremony at Queens College. Part of the conversation focused on Grace’s sister Caroline and the anti-Semitic venom she reportedly spewed on her now infamous website.

In a 2002 race for State Assembly, Jimmy Meng who is Grace and Caroline Meng’s father was narrowly defeated by Barry Grodenchik. There were reports stating that Caroline Meng defended her father’s honor by writing on her website: “It’s really sad Asians can’t stick together. The Jews stick together and that’s why they control everything.” Grace Meng, the campaign’s manager, attempted to defuse the situation by noting that her father’s attorney is Jewish and that the campaign had many Jewish supporters.

Some of this morning’s customers opined that Grace’s response sounded oddly familiar to that old refrain of “Some of my best friends are Jewish or Black or Asian” or any other minority group we want to name. No one could remember Caroline ever issuing an apology to the Jewish or Asian Community. She is welcome to visit the Cafe and respond in person – Something that no one expects to happen soon.

Congratulations, Grace! There are high hopes that you will represent “ALL” of your constituents.