A TIME TO BE MERRY
RPOCA Celebrates Christmas Gets Update On YMCA Project
Accompanied by three local children's choirs, the organization lit two spruce trees in front of the middle school on Forest Avenue. Helping RPOCA President Paul Kerzner do the honors was Santa Claus, whose trip was made possible by RPOCA board member Joseph Haufe (see photo on page 16).
Before enjoying the concert that followed inside the school's auditorium, members and local residents got an update from the executive director of the Ridgewood YMCA regarding the ongoing reconstruction of the community center on Catalpa Avenue.
Gregory Maziarz announced that the opening of the facility across from the 104th Precinct stationhouse at the intersection of Catalpa Avenue and 64th Street has been delayed as work continues. Originally scheduled to open in November, he told attendees that the project is targeted for completion by the end of "the first quarter in 2009."
Formerly known to local residents as the Catalpa YMCA, as previously reported, the facility was shuttered in September 2007 for the $5 million renovation project that began soon after. The improvements will add 5,000 sq. ft. of space to accommodate additional athletic and education activities serving local schoolchildren and residents.
The expanded center will total 25,000 sq. ft., the executive director stated, and will serve up to 3,000 children and 2,000 adult members living nearby. New programs, including a day care center and preschool, will also be introduced.
While the center has been closed, Maziarz noted that the YMCA continues to maintain two after-school programs serving local children. One is based at Covenant Lutheran Church, located down the block from the facility on Catalpa Avenue, while the other is housed at P.S. 139 in Rego Park.
Since the center's closure last year, all YMCA members based at the Catalpa Y were granted free admission to all other chapters overseen by the YMCA of Greater New York.
In anticipation of the Ridgewood YMCA's opening in the spring, Maziarz announced that the organization is receiving applications from prospective members. At the meeting, all children in attendance were offered free membership.
The applications are being accepted online at www.ymcanyc.org/ ridgewood and at the Ridgewood YMCA's temporary registration office located at 61-01A Catalpa Ave. near Fresh Pond Road.
Graffiti payback campaign
The civic group's corresponding secretary, Pat LaSala, asked all in attendance to support a joint campaign by RPOCA and the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation seeking financial restitution for damages caused by an alleged graffiti vandal arrested in October.
Members of RPOCA distributed copies of the Times Newsweekly editorial and a GRRC column, both published in the Nov. 27 issue, which urged Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown to seek restitution against Matthew Young, who was charged for allegedly scrawling his tag at locations around Ridgewood and Glendale.
Residents were asked in both the editorial and column to write to the district attorney in support of the effort. The GRRC also asked for restitution to be sought against others convicted of graffiti vandalism.
According to estimates obtained by the GRRC, it would cost $6,500 to remove tags allegedly made by Young at 11 locations in the Ridgewood area an additional $3,500 to clean a trestle where the suspect's tag was discovered.
LaSala encouraged all in attendance to submit the handout with their names and addresses to RPOCA, which would mail them to the district attorney's office.
Christmas greetings and music
Following the meeting, residents were treated to a Christmas concert featuring youngsters from three local schools and the St. John's University Voices of Victory Gospel Choir.
The St. Matthias Children's Choir took to the stage first. Accompanied on guitar by director Steve Pulick and piano by Steven Haufe, the youths sang a number of religious tunes as well as a variation on the Christmas classic, "What Child is This?"
Following them was the children's choir from Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Among the pieces they performed while accom- panied on the piano by their choir director, Dr. Merry Naddeo, included "Angels We Have Hard on High."
Third to perform at the concert was the St. Aloysius Children's Choir. Directed by Maria Flaim, the youngsters delighted attendees with their rendition of a number of Christmas classics including "Frosty the Snowman" and "Feliz Navidad."
The Voices of Victory Choir, under the guidance of director Nigel Gretton, followed to performed several religious songs—including a variation of Handel's "Messiah"— and closed out the evening by bringing the other choirs and all in attendance together for a singalong.
Among those in attendance for the festivities, and offering their holiday greetings, were Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and City Council Member-elect Elizabeth Crowley.
The RPOCA will not meet in January 2009. Their next meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at I.S. 93, located on Forest Avenue between Woodbine and Madison streets.
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