2012-12-05 / Front Page

Sunnyside Chamber Luncheon

By Thomas Cogan

At the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce’s November meeting and luncheon, President Swain Weiner did not present a guest speaker with a specific topic, but instead allowed a new special projects officer from the 108th Police Precinct to introduce himself and then had short reports and commentary from other attendees.  Nearly everyone had something to say about the October 30 storm, especially since its consequences have affected so many people, even those who experienced little or no damage from it.  An earlier event, the fatal October 20 assault on Lou Rispoli, was brought up too, since the investigation continues and a march in his memory was on schedule for the following Saturday afternoon.  Weiner also disclosed that the fiscally-strapped chamber has hired a grant writer in an effort to obtain operational funds.

Lieutenant Mark Turner, the 108th’s special projects officer, had two community affairs officers, P.O. Louis Sorrentino and P.O. Luis Diaz with him.  The lieutenant said he began his police career in Manhattan as a youth officer and later moved on to community affairs.  After that, he won a Raymond W. Kelly Scholarship to study the topic of conflict, in graduate school at Columbia University.  He didn’t deliver a crime report to the luncheon meeting, other than to say there had been a 10.5 percent drop in crime in the 108th during the previous four weeks.  He said also that generally there was a good reaction to storm disruption a couple of weeks earlier.  Judy Zangwill, executive director of Sunnyside Community Services, said that eight days earlier, in the midst of the gasoline crisis, she had appealed to Officers Sorrentino and Diaz about getting a fill-up for the SCS van, knowing the driver had had to wait 14 hours during the weekend for the previous one.  She said they intervened and the van was filled within five minutes.  She also said that the SCS annual gala, held each year at Studio Square in Astoria, was on schedule for Thursday, November 1 but had to be cancelled, in the wake of the storm.  Zangwill was happy to report, though, that the money raised by ticket sales did not, for the most part, have to be returned. 

Melissa Borges, of the Long Island City YMCA, said the Y offered showers to several who were displaced by the storm.  She also announced that relief items could be deposited in the lobby of the Y, at 32-23 Queens Blvd.  Arthur Rosenfield, president of the Long Island City/Astoria Chamber of Commerce, spoke of the damage done by the storm in Hunters Point, situated beside both Newtown Creek and the East River.  The three restaurants along the way, characteristically named Waterfront Crabhouse, Riverview and Water’s Edge, all suffered damage, the first and last of them extensively.  While the Riverview, 2-01 50th Ave., suffered flooding, the damage wasn’t as severe as it was a couple of blocks away at Waterfront Crabhouse, 2nd Street and Borden Avenue, where the water got in and wrecked the interior.  The owner, Tony Mazzarella, said he would be rebuilding, with an eye to reopening in the spring.  Water’s Edge owners also plan reconstruction.  The restaurant, like the Crabhouse, has two tiers but, being directly on the East River, at 44th Drive, it was severely hit.

Rosenfield praised the Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Ave., for its storm relief effort, and also Guardian Data Destruction, which had its trucks in Manhattan and Staten Island to provide urgently-needed recharging of cell phones.  Pat Dorfman, of the SCC board, praised City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer for his wide-ranging relief work.  His chief of staff, Joe Kenton, was present at the luncheon but had to leave on further business.  In parting, he said the councilman’s office expected to have use soon of a quite necessary tree stump remover.

While Lieut. Turner was speaking and taking questions, Bill Perry of the online Sunnyside Post asked, as others have asked before him, about the investigation into the October 20 attack on community activist Lou Rispoli that led to his death within a week.  The lieutenant reserved any reply, but Perry was able to say that having resided 24 years in Sunnyside, he had never seen a more passionate reaction to such an incident.  The memorial march in Rispoli’s honor, scheduled for the following Saturday at 4:00 p.m., was to proceed from 43rd Avenue and 50th Street to the spot at 43rd Avenue and 41st street where the fatal attack occurred.

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