After nearly two years in which news reports in these pages and at qchron.com were dominated by Covid-19, the focus on the novel coronavirus finally eased up a bit in 2022, though like the pathogen itself, it did not disappear.
Whether fading from pandemic to endemic, as many believe, or just quieting down until a new variant strikes later this winter, as some fear, the virus’ situation has changed. What has not, perhaps, is human nature, and the kind of news events, both tragic and triumphant, that it drives. Here are many that filled our Western Queens edition in the first six months of this year, with Part II appearing next week.
Things did not start off well in Queens as, for the second time in a row, the city’s first homicide of the year was committed here. The victim was ShweSin Nyuntwai, 41, of Elmhurst. She was stabbed to death on New Year’s Day near the corner of 23rd Street and Broadway in Astoria.
Newly inaugurated Mayor Adams signed an order Jan. 4 directing government agencies that issue summonses to businesses to find ways to reduce the hassle, such as giving warnings instead or even eliminating some charges if not necessary for health or safety.
Gov. Hochul directed the MTA to study the feasibility of running passenger trains along freight tracks from Brooklyn into Queens, establishing what would be called the Interborough Express.
Adams and Hochul also announced a new plan to tackle homelessness and crime in the subways by deploying teams of social service workers and mental health experts in a program called Safe Options Support.
Meanwhile the rate of new Covid cases continued to drop, with Dr. Teresa Amato, director of emergency medicine at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Forest Hills hospital, telling the Chronicle, “I think we’ve probably hit the peak.” She added that among those who are sick, doctors are seeing “milder disease.
Queens Pride announced that its parade and festival would return in June after a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus.
A meeting on the city’s plan to install a bus lane on 21st Street in Astoria drew more than 100 people, passionately for or against it.
Hochul presented the priciest budget plan the state had ever seen while Adams directed his agencies to find ways to save 3 percent.
The Queens Botanical Garden named Evie Hantzopoulos of Astoria as its new executive director.
Adams on Jan. 24 announced “The Blueprint to End Gun Violence,” a plan calling for a multipronged crimefighting approach including law enforcement, social service and mental health components and a revisiting of some recently enacted state laws that critics say help fuel lawlessness.
Hochul and Adams celebrated the completion of LaGuardia Airport’s new Terminal B at an event attended by other dignitaries including Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica).
The state Legislature voted to approve the new district lines it came up with after an independent body failed to do so as required by voter-approved referenda, but the lawmakers’ plans were found in court to be so gerrymandered they were unconstitutional, and they had to be redrawn. The litigation was split, with congressional and state Senate lines challenged in one case and the Assembly map targeted in another one. The latter case came late enough so the challenged districts were used this year, despite being found to be illegal.
City Councilmembers Julie Won (D-Sunnyside) and Julie Menin (D-Manhattan) on Feb. 3 wrote Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez to see if a plan to separate pedestrians from bicyclists on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge could be sped up. It had been delayed by other, structural bridge work.
Jerome Chazen, the board chairman of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona and one of the early leaders of the Liz Claiborne fashion empire, died Feb. 6 at age 94.
One City Council committee and one subcommittee met Feb. 8 to discuss legislation to make outdoor dining permanent with new regulations and get it to the floor, but it still has not been voted on.
A Newsday report revealed that state Assemblymember Cathy Nolan (D-Long Island City) was not running for re-election after nearly four decades in office.
Sara Perez, an 18-year-old animal lover who was fostering 10 rescue cats at her home, was killed Feb. 17 when a 16-year-old backed out of a driveway onto Northern Boulevard near the East Elmhurst-Corona border and then plowed forward just as she was passing by on the sidewalk in front of him.
The New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park reopened Feb. 19, five months after it had been heavily damaged by tropical storm Ida — after having been open again for only two months following a longer closure due to Covid.
Ukrainian Americans and their allies here began fundraising and relief efforts for their homeland following its invasion on Feb. 24 by Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Digital portraits of hundreds of Covid victims, created by 17-year-old artist Hannah Ernst, went on display at the Elmhurst Library.
The St. Pat’s Parade for All returned to Woodside and Sunnyside March 6 after a one-year Covid hiatus.
City Councilman Shekar Krishnan (D-Jackson Heights) and other officials gathered at the Unisphere March 14 to call for new playgrounds and a million new trees to be planted citywide.
Gov. Hochul released a 10-point plan to combat rising crime in part by modifying some of the changes to the law regarding bail that passed in 2019, even while saying those changes were not to blame for the spikes in criminality.
The Port Authority held public workshops March 16 and 24 examining the 14 plans it is choosing among for better mass transit to and from LaGuardia Airport. A report on the various options is due soon.
Mayor Adams announced March 24 that athletes and stage performers would be exempt from the rules requiring other people working in the city to be vaccinated, drawing criticism for giving the rich and famous a break not available to the hoi polloi.
The man who killed Jackson Heights mom of three Bertha Arriaga with a single unaimed bullet in September 2020 was sentenced March 25 to 15 years in prison for the crime.
JetBlue, with its headquarters in Long Island City, said on March 28 it would hire 5,000 people by the summertime and increase its number of daily departures from New York from 200 to 300.
The MTA revealed its plan to restructure the borough bus system March 29, and announced the schedule of community meetings on it.
An extension of mayoral control of schools, something that has to be passed by state lawmakers and signed by the governor, was left out of Albany’s budget plan, leaving it to be addressed separately later in the legislative session, to Mayor Adams’ chagrin.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell announced April 6 that crime was up 36.5 percent overall citywide in the first quarter of the year, though in Queens the figure was 51.9 percent. She said promising new initiatives were having an effect but that it would “not take weeks” to turn around what had happened over years.
Adams, the city’s second black mayor, declared on April 11 that Juneteenth, the June 19 celebration of the end of slavery, would be an official city holiday, fulfilling a pledge made by his predecessor, Bill de Blasio.
Mets fans attended an Opening Day like no other April 15, as the Amazin’s unveiled a larger-than-life statue of legendary ace pitcher Tom Seaver outside Citi Field. The ceremony included his widow, their two daughters, the sculptor and many more.
Lauren Pazienza, a 26-year-old resident of Astoria and Long Island, was indicted for shoving singer and vocal coach Barbara Maier Gustern, 87, to the ground in Manhattan on March 10, mortally injuring her.
The state Court of Appeals on April 27 threw out the new congressional and state Senate maps crafted by the Legislature as unconstitutional. The state Assembly maps were challenged separately.
Prostitute Angelina Barini was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison April 26 after giving four men hard drugs so they could pass out and she could rob them in western and northern Queens in 2019 — but instead killing them.
The owner of Food Universe in the Jackson Heights Shopping Center in East Elmhurst informed state regulators that it would be closing in June.
The month ended in horror when Zhiwen Yan of Elmhurst, a food deliveryman and married father of three, was gunned down making his rounds the night of April 30. The community raised nearly $300,000 to support his family within just several days, and his co-workers at the Great Wall restaurant in Forest Hills immediately pointed police toward a suspect, a man who had had repeated clashes with the restaurant, starting with a dispute over duck sauce.
A court-appointed special master submitted his congressional and state Senate maps to a state Supreme Court justice as required, with some elements causing trouble for incumbents. U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) was drawn into the same district as Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan), and when the two later faced off in a primary, Maloney lost.
Residents who logged into the online May 11 Community Board 6 meeting pressured NYPD Deputy Inspector Joseph Cappelmann, commander of the 112th Precinct, to make an arrest in the Yan murder.
The leak of a draft ruling in the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization led to abortion-rights rallies being held in Queens communities including Jackson Heights and Sunnyside, with protesters correctly stating the decision would overturn the right to terminate pregnancies established in 1973’s Roe v. Wade.
The prosecution successfully argued that accused killer Pazienza should not be granted bail in the death of an elderly vocal coach.
City and state lawmakers separately approved adding 750 sites to the city’s school speed-zone camera program, and to keep the devices operational 24 hours a day.
The four Democrats running to succeed Nolan in the state Assembly, including eventual winner Juan Ardila, shared their visions at a candidates forum held May 24 at Sunnyside Community Services.
Glenn Hirsch of Briarwood was arrested the night of June 1 and charged with killing Yan. His case would never get to trial as Hirsch committed suicide in August.
State lawmakers granted Adams just two more years of mayoral control of schools, rather than the four he had wanted.
In a first for Queens, Starbucks workers at the chain’s Astoria Boulevard location were recognized as unionized June 3 after winning their certification election unanimously.
A Bayside man was arrested June 11 after allegedly committing several attacks against people on trains and on the streets of western Queens, most with a knife but once with a nail-studded board and rock. He was finally jailed after being repeatedly let out before, with Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell lamenting revolving-door justice in a statement pointing out, “We keep arresting him.”
The City Council on June 13 approved a record $101.1 billion budget agreed to by the mayor and speaker in a 44-6 vote.
A new Douglas Elliman report showed that rents keep rising, with May’s average in Queens coming in at 16.9 percent higher than a year before.
The Parks Department announced cutbacks to swim programs at outdoor pools due to a shortage of lifeguards.
Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas (D-East Elmhurst), state Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Jackson Heights) and area activists rallied June 17 against cuts in city education spending caused by declining enrollment.
A state Supreme Court judge on June 27 ruled that the city law allowing immigrants to vote violates the state Constitution, as claimed in a suit filed by a group of naturalized U.S. citizens, Queens Councilmembers Joann Ariola (R-Ozone Park), Vickie Paladino (R-Whitestone) and Bob Holden (D-Maspeth) and others. The city appealed.
Voters went to the polls for primary races June 28, with western Queens veteran Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) staving off a challenge from Hiram Monserrate and newcomer Juan Ardia winning the Democratic nod for Nolan’s old district.