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Happy March!

Well, here we are in a new month. And gauging by the weather today, March has been in like a lamb – looks like we’ll be in the 40s all week and maybe even hit the 50s next weekend. March is chock full of opportunities to celebrate, too – St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), Holy Week (Western church – starts March 24), Passover (March 25), and Easter (Western church – March 31). And on the subject of St. Patrick’s Day, remember that the St. Pat’s For All parade is this Sunday at 2pm in Sunnyside.

What’s going on with the Astoria Park diving pool project

We’ve learned a lot about the plans for the Astoria Park diving pool, for its transformation into a performance venue. Astoria doesn’t have much in the way of performance spaces, so this could be really, really nice for the neighborhood. Parks expects to start the ground-breaking process in about 18 months, and it will cost $4.7 million; originally the project was going to cost $1 million. The theater will likely have a 500 person capacity; if they add more exits, they believe they could accommodate 2,500 persons.

The plan is to fill in the pool with concrete, repurpose the dive tower, and build a new entrance for the amphitheater along with two additional exits. They’ll also move the small diving boards that surround the diving pool. A wheelchair accessible path from the parking lot to the theater will be created. There will also be concessions. No new bathrooms, though.

Taste of Ridgewood is happening April

We recently got wind of the Taste of Ridgewood, which will be in its very first year this April. 20 restaurants will be there, and the organizers expect a healthy number of donors to attend. There will also be live music! The event is serving as a fundraiser for the Ridgewood YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign, which “ensures that no child or family is ever turned away from life-enhancing YMCA programs because of the inability to pay.” Nice. Sounds like it will be a ton of fun!

Spirits in an old Speakeasy in the Rockways

At the start of an article about BK based Noble Experiment and their Owney’s NYC Rum, a Rockaways speakeasy is mentioned, and the spirits (like Casper, not alcohol) that may (or may not) live there:

[Bridget Firtle’s parent’s] home in Rockaway Beach, Queens — the house where she was raised and to which she recently moved to save money — has a bar in the basement, which was once a speakeasy. The Firtles did not do much to prepare for Sandy, aside from flipping the stools on top of the bar.

The floodwaters came.

“The next day, when we went down there to clean up the mess, the bottles were in different places around the room and chairs and tables were all over the place,” Ms. Firtle said. “The washer and dryer were flipped over. But the bar stools did not move. The bar did not move. The shelving behind the bar was totally untouched.”

“We now know that there are spirits in the speakeasy,” she added.

A newbie’s guide to Queens subway stops

We’ve put together a little guide to the N/Q line in Astoria, and we hope it is helpful for those new to the area – heck, even old timers might read it and go “OH yeah!” or “WTH?!?” In any case, take a look and if you have tidbits you just can’t help but share, leave us a comment or send us an email.

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Image source: Queens Courier

The Queens Courier reports on what was presented during the meeting with the community and the Parks Department on the evening of February 20 at Astoria World Manor. Looks like they will start the ground-breaking process in about 18 months, and the cost for the project will be $4.7 million, which is more than was originally projected ($1 million). The theater will likely have a 500 person capacity; if they add more exits, they believe they could accommodate 2,500 persons.

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Tonight is the community meeting regarding the Astoria Park diving pool

Remember – tonight the community gets to meet with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation regarding the transition of the Astoria Park diving pool to a theater. They’ll be sharing the schematic design for the proposed performance space. The meeting takes place at Astoria World Manor, 25-22 Astoria Blvd (GMAP), from 6:30-8:30pm. All are welcome.

Sunnyside CSA opens sign ups for the 2013 season tomorrow night

The Sunnyside CSA has posted a sign up announcement on their website:

It’s time to prepare for Sunnyside CSA 2013 Sign Ups! Returning and new members, please join us on February 21st from 6-8pm at Sunnyside Community Services and sign up for the 2013 Summer/Autumn Season!

Please read about our 2013 Share Options. For the Summer/Autumn Season, we are offering vegetable, fruit, herb and dairy shares. Once you decide what you want, you can download the contract and bring it, along with your check made out to Sunnyside CSA, to the sign up. (You can also fill out a contract there, but things will move much quicker if you have it all ready.)

The produce at Sunnyside CSA comes from Golden Earthworm Farm (vegetables); Briermere Farm (fruit); Milk Not Jails (dairy – pasteurized); and meat, cheese, honey, bread and more from Lewis Waite. CSAs are a fantastic way to eat healthy food and support local economies.

Long Island City vs. LIC

The NY Post published a piece on how some folks would like to see the community of Long Island City renamed as simply “LIC.” Apparently it’s confusing to some – they think it’s out in Nassau or Suffolk, instead of one stop from the city. We’ve heard it’s bad for real estate, hotels, and morale, and goes against the image that Long Island City is urban and hip. What do you think? Leave us a comment via twitter at @queensycity.

Joey Ramone – New York City

This video is excellent – great music, excellent editing, and Queens is in it!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WhlcwcznSo]

Mets baseball and weekly sports news and views

We’d like to welcome new contributor Mitchell Petit-Frere. He’s going to be bringing us news and views on sports and Queens on a weekly basis. Check out his first post about the Mets! Baseball is almost here, thank goodness.

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The Astoria Park Pool diving pool info meeting is happening soon

Curious about what’s up with the plan to make the currently defunct Astoria Park Pool diving pool into an outdoor amphitheater? Attend the informational meeting on Wednesday, February 20 from 6:30-8:30pm at the Astoria World Manor, 25-22 Astoria Blvd (GMAP). Folks from the Parks Dept will be there to share the schematic design for the proposed performance space. It’s a pretty exciting prospect, to have the diving pool spot serve as something that could benefit the entire community; right now it just sits there, attracting leaves, bugs, and feral cats.

You can gamble in NY State at age 18… but perhaps not for long

NY1 reports that Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder and Senator Joseph Addabbo have proposed in a bill that the minimum gambling age be raised from 18 to 21. Both of these lawmakers oversee districts that include the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack. Goldfeder says he is, “concerned after spotting gamblers under 21 at Resorts World, which is near several schools.”

Old Prague in Astoria, Queens

Old Prague has arrived… in the form of a bar by the same name. Thanks to consummate beer lover tastoriaqueens for the info and rundown. This location on 31st Street, the old Zlata Praha restaurant that was closed for like forever (GMAP), has been transformed into a cozy, homey Czech bar with lots of dark wood, delicious Czech beer on tap, plenty of TVs, and future offerings in the plans of homestyle Czech food and espresso. We look forward to drinking (and later, eating) there very soon.

Will big box stores find their way to Dutch Kills

Dutch Kills is known as a bit of a sleepy part of LIC, and home to many hotels, but in the near future big box retailers might also be finding their way there, too. Right now, this sort of retail is mainly found along Northern Blvd in LIC (think Home Depot, Michaels, etc), but there is a huge property on 21st Street near 39th Ave – 100,000 square feet’s worth – that could be come home to a variety of chain retailers. This is according to Benjamin Fox, executive vice president of retail leasing with Massey Knakal (who is exclusively marketing the property). MK would love to secure a long-term net lease of $1.5 million. There is a warehouse building on the property – which housed a Staples some time ago – but that is only 16,000 square feet, so there’s lots of extra space to work with (some smaller buildings would likely be razed). The developers are considering businesses like supermarkets, fashion retailers, automobile dealerships, and storage companies, among others, and they are open to splitting up the lot for the right mix of businesses; zoning rules are on their side for this. We’ll keep an eye on it.

Art & Solitude in LIC

This is a thoughtful video of artist Angélique Chandy, who makes art in LIC. We love the sights of the neighborhood that she incorporates into the video, some magnificent and some quite ordinary. About the art featured in the video:

This video is dedicated to people with albinism experiencing separateness and social isolation. It was inspired by the process of painting my colleague Diandra Forrest, an African American with albinism.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/57386833]

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The diving pool area – note the concrete seating and the diving boards to the right

A while back, we learned that the defunct Astoria Pool diving pool was going to be turned into an outdoor amphitheater. On Wednesday, February 20 from 6:30-8:30pm, there will be an informational meeting with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. They’ll be sharing the schematic design for the proposed performance space.