Barbara Stuchinski, president of the Forest Hills Civic Association, doesn't dwell on the past. Still, with another year in the books, she and the rest of the board had good reason to celebrate their accomplishments in 2010.
Stuchinski and J.R. Nocerino, vice president, both pointed to the opening of the and Remsen Family Cemetery becoming an official city park as 2010's biggest victories. The now supervises the park's maintenance, ensuring that the local landmark will stay pristine for future generations.
For the civic's veterans, who saw the process unfold, the big wins in 2010 were the culmination of efforts that started in the 1990's. Nocerino said the lobby for the construction of Queens Metropolitan Educational Campus goes back 17 years. "It was long awaited. Our schools were overcrowded for a long time," he said.
Stuchinski said the fight for Remsen's status began 20 years ago. "It takes 20 years if it has to, but it gets done," she said. "There was so much trash there. It was in bad shape." Stuchinski said the park receiving status was essential "because the Remsen family was one of the important historical families of New York."
The Remsens trace their roots to one of the earliest Dutch families to colonize New Amsterdam, and Henry Remsen was a prominent public figure in New York during the Revolutionary War.
Michael Giordano, owner of on Metropolitan Avenue, received a Good Neighbor Award from the board. Giordano helped out an Emergency Response Team member direct traffic in the aftermath of the Sept. 16 macroburst.
Giordano said he saw a woman with reflective gear trying to show the cars where to go, "and no offense or anything, but she wasn't exactly as tall as an SUV is," he said. "You know, I thought I could help out, try to tell the drivers what streets were still open, or where they could go."
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. stopped by and posed for photos with the Good Neighbor Award winners., represented by Victoria Grappone, also won the award for this year.
Nocerino said the September storm gave the board an opportunity to show its stripes by making sure power was restored to the entire neighborhood, and that the city provided proper police support and clean up. "We really banded together to get things done during the tornado," he said.
The hard work throughout the year also paid off with attention from Manhattan. The board's August town hall meeting drew Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and made a recent visit in November. "The mayor asked to come," said Stuchinski. She said the board's hard work and reputation for courteous exchanges has made it appealing for some of the city's most prominent politicians to visit.
"This whole group in Forest Hills is very civilized," said Stuchinski. "We don't yell, we don't curse. I don't ever be want a huge, volcanic civic group," she said.