2014-05-21 / Features

CB 1 Cabinet Gathers For May Meeting

By Thomas Cogan
The Community Board 1 cabinet meeting for May convened as usual in a boardroom at Kaufman Astoria Studios and led off with some KAS news, supplied by the studio’s Tracy Capune.  She hailed the creation of the Kaufman Arts District and spoke of the studio’s effort to gain 501 (c) 3 status, before introducing Executive Director Erin Moore of Astoria Performing Arts Center,  Sean Leonardo then spoke about Socrates Sculpture Park, before hurrying somewhere else to talk about it.  He mentioned an exhibit that was to open the following weekend, saying it includes the largest work the park has ever mounted, A Department of Transportation representative tried to explain plans to lessen traffic hazards near the Triboro Bridge and had to endure the frustrations arising from attendees who have known many unhappy occasions driving there.  Other spring and summer activities also were announced.

Capune first thanked City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer for giving the Kaufman Arts District its name, then explained that it is bounded by 34th Avenue and 37th Avenue and Steinway Street and 34th Street.  Thus, it lies somewhat between Dutch Kills and the Ditmars area of Astoria.  She said these boundaries must be firmly and finally set if the district is to gain non-profit 501 (c) 3 status. 

The Astoria Performing Arts Center is based at KAS, though it also calls Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent St., home; and there, a production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s relatively overlooked 1947 musical, Allegro, is now running.  APAC’s Executive Director Erin Moore, said it has been staging four performances of Allegro per week (Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday matinees and evenings) since May 1.  Stuck as it is between mammoth R&H successes—Oklahoma and Carousel before it, South Pacific and The King and I after—Allegro has never gained much attention or revival, but APAC finds it worthy of another chance,   The opportunity to see it won’t last much longer, however:  the final four performances are running Thursday through Saturday, May 15-17.  For ticket information, call 1-888-596-2027.

Sean Leonardo began by saying that Socrates Sculpture Park received a large grant in 2013 and is using it.  He distributed a booklet that presented art openings, classes, workshops and other activities opening or available from this month through the fall of the year.  Four exhibitions are on schedule to open on Mother’s Day, M ay 11.  One, “Scarecrow,” by the Lithuanian-born Queens resident, Zilvinas Kempinas, is 250 feet wide and is the largest exhibition ever mounted at Socrates.  The other exhibitions opening that day are:  “Queen Mother of Reality,” by Pawel Althamer; “Sural Ark,” by the architectural firm, Austin+Mergold; and “Citoyen du Monde,” by Meschac Gaba.

Joan Herrera of ARROW, on 35th Street between 35th and 36th Avenues, announced a variety of activities, all free of charge and aimed at several age groups, at the community center.  Martial arts include karate and an Afro-Brazilian mode of defense.  Citizenship classes are available, and immigration lawyers are periodically on schedule.  In the summer season, there is a day camp—though Herrera explained that the 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. activity must be called a “drop-in program” because there is no charge, and a camp must charge a price.  Further information about ARROW is available at 718-349-0444.     

Helen Ho, at one time a regular participant in the monthly cabinet meetings, returned as Queens director of the Community Affairs Unit, Office of the Mayor to announce the first of two Vision Zero workshops, to be held nearby at Bohemian Hall, 29-19 24th Ave., Wednesday, May 21, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.    Another workshop will be held eight days later, Thursday, May 29, also 6:30-8:30, at Jamaica Performing Arts Center, 153-10 Jamaica Ave.  Vision Zero is the drive to reduce traffic fatalities, particularly for pedestrians, to zero, or to a very low level anyway, in 10 years’ time.  

Vikram Sinha, of the Department of Transportation, had recently addressed the transportation committee of Community Board 1 on proposed alterations to Astoria Boulevard North near 31st Street and next to the Queens approach to the Triboro Bridge.   He repeated the proposals to the cabinet meeting and the audience showed him some skepticism, since they’ll believe improvements there when they see them.  The aim is to divide the highway and a certain exit ramp better, thus simplifying traffic patterns and reducing weaving and the hazards of sideswiping and collisions.  The merging zone east of 31st Street will be moved west of 31st Street, which should calm traffic volume.  Sinha was asked if he would be at the next C.B. 1 meeting to explain things all over again, but he said he hadn’t thus far been asked to appear.

Saturday, May 17 is full of local activities.  From 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. there will be a workshop on planting perennial trees at Hoyt Avenue North and 24th Street.  A spring arts festival will be held from noon to 4:00 p.m.  at Jacob Riis Settlement House, 10-25 41st Ave.   And the Long Island City Partnership’s LIC Springs street fair will run from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Vernon Boulevard, between 46th and 50th Avenues.   Three weeks later, Saturday, June 7, the United Communities Cooperative Association (UCCA) will hold its annual health fair at Most Precious Blood Church and School, 37th Street between 34th Avenue and Broadway.  


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