Borough President Vito Fossella announces Pickleball Tournament for Intermediate, High School Students
As the popularity of pickleball grows, Borough President Vito Fossella announced upcoming tournaments for high school and intermediate school students.
“We see across Staten Island and across the country, how pickleball has become the rage and perhaps the fastest growing sport in the country,” said Borough President Fossella during a press conference in the Michael J. Petrides School. “It’s not just about the sport, it’s about teamwork and communication. That’s the essence of it and if you don’t have good teamwork and if you don’t have good communication, the team could fall apart. Isn’t that a motto for life -- teamwork and communication and that’s what we have here on Staten Island.”
The high school tournament will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28, and the intermediate school tournament will take place on Sunday, Nov. 18.
“I want to thank our borough president for always thinking about our children,” said Dr. Marion Wilson, superintendent of Staten Island’s District 31. “I am excited to have it on Staten Island because why not? We don’t follow trends, we set them -- and pickleball is something that is for all ages.”
The high school tournament is being coordinated by Alan Lewin and the intermediate school tournament is being coordinated by Principal Nicholas Mele of Markham (I.S. 51) Intermediate School.
“We’re really excited to add pickleball to the sports that we already started last year,” said Principal Mele. “We’re hoping that the interest in the sport really expands as we move forward and hopefully, we can create bigger opportunities for kids to play.”
Borough President Fossella has been working with the City Parks Department to increase the number of pickleball courts on Staten Island and will be hosting the Borough President’s Pickleball Cup for adult teams at the College of Staten Island on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8.
“I think pickleball is a sport where so many different people can play on so many different levels, so why not get out there and meet new people,” said Borough President Fossella.
Borough President Vito Fossella gathered in a bipartisan show of support with his fellow elected officials along with the residents of Arrochar and community activists, to commend the decision by State Supreme Court Justice Wayne Ozzi to grant a preliminary injunction to bar the use of the former St. John Villa Academy as a migrant shelter.
“We commend the Honorable State Supreme Court Justice Wayne Ozzi for his decision in favor of our lawsuit,” said Borough President Fossella. “This decision is a victory for the residents of Arrochar and, frankly, all Staten Islanders. We believe the city acted improperly in placing a migrant shelter within the heart of Arrochar, a low-density residential community and across the street from a Pre-K-12 school. It is refreshing to know that there are jurists in our system, like Judge Ozzi, who understands our concerns with having migrant shelters placed within residential areas.”
Borough President Fossella read Judge Ozzi’s ruling in part which said the “virtual flood of asylum seekers” would fill two Yankee Stadiums and is equal to one-fifth of Staten Island’s population.
Shortly after the ruling by Judge Ozzi, the administration of Mayor Eric Adams announced their intention to appeal.
“We are disappointed to hear that the city plans to appeal Judge Ozzi’s decision in the St. John Villa lawsuit,” said Borough President Fossella in a statement. “We hope the city sees this as an opportunity to change their direction in handling the migrants. As the ruling clearly states, there is no solid foundation for the current implementation of the right-to-shelter consent decree. First off, it is not a law, secondly, it is not in the constitution, and lastly, it is a recipe for financial disaster. We would hope that the city sees this as an opportunity to pivot instead of digging a bigger hole.”
Borough President Vito Fossella honored Sebastian Angelico with the 2022 Albert V. Maniscalco Community Service Award in recognition of his lifetime of philanthropy during a ceremony in Borough Hall on Monday evening. In 2007, he founded the Emergency Children’s Help Organization (ECHO) to provide financial assistance to children with medical emergencies or whose families are struggling to make ends meet.
To date, ECHO has provided $4.1 million in emergency medical and living expenses, including their inaugural capital project, the ECHO Pediatric Emergency Unit, which opened in 2021 on the Prince’s Bay campus of Staten Island University Hospital.
“There are those that are desperate -- families, often young families -- on their last nickel with no place to go -- and along comes an organization that helps bail them out and give life to their situation,” said Borough President Fossella.
The Albert V. Maniscalco Community Service Award, established in 1986, honors our ninth Borough President. His tenure from 1955 to 1965 saw the creation of the Greenbelt and the construction of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. The Maniscalco Award celebrates civic-minded Staten Islanders who have dedicated their lives in service for the betterment of their community.
Mr. Angelico -- known as Sibby -- had humble beginnings as the son of a baker. He successfully ran his own bakery until the late 1970s when the opportunity came to get involved in the Commodities Industry. After years of trading on various exchanges, he started his own clearing firm which became one of the most successful in the exchange. He is still the President of Savant, USA LTD., which is now a subsidiary of the Stone X Group, Inc.
Once he was successful in the commodities industry, Mr. Angelico continued his lifelong conviction to help others. He was particularly moved by stories he read of children struggling with dangerous illnesses, and out of a drive to help not just one but many children, ECHO was born.
“There are good people who recognize that, when given a lot of gifts, it’s much more rewarding to give back,” said Borough President Fossella. “You bring out the best in Staten Island.”
Mr. Angelico gave credit to his family for ECHO’s success. He and his wife, Florence, have been married for more than 50 years. They are the proud parents of Vincent, Christine and Susan, and the grandparents of seven.
“My family follows the same type of thing,” he said. “I’m receiving this award, but I’m just the guy who founded it. They’re involved in helping people. I am glad that this thing will go on when I’m not here.”
Shortly after receiving the award, Mr. Angelico joined Borough President Fossella in unveiling an engraving of his name on a plaque at the entrance of Borough Hall.
Mr. Angelico’s name joins the 36 individuals and organizations who were previously honored with the Albert V. Maniscalco Community Service Award for their commitment to community altruism:
Richard E. Diamond, John L.F. Sipp, Norma D’Arrigo, Allan Weissglass, Martin Stallone, Roger E. Acker, Reverend Robert I. Gannon, Michael F. Manzulli, Michael J. Petrides, Marie G. Martino, Francis H. Powers, Susie-Hyun Sook Beidel, Brian Laline, Reverend Hattie Smith-Davis, Joseph V. Madory, Lou Caravone, Joe Valentin, Nancy Passeri, retired Borough Commander Anthony Marra, Reverend Terry Troia, Senator John J. Marchi, Wendy Pellegrino, Fred Ariemma, Joanne E. Gerenser, Ph.D., Dr. Chitoor S. Govindaraj, Kathryn Krause Rooney, the Siller Family, George and Maria Esposito, the Mannix Family, the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation, William A. Morris Jr., Lois and Richard Nicotra, Dee Vandenburg, Monsignor Peter G. Finn, Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 New York, Diane Arneth, and Dan Singleton.
The Susan E. Wagner High School Falcons lined the hallway as Borough President Vito Fossella announced the allocation of $100,000 for locker room renovations in the new state-of-the-art weight room for the football team. He was joined by Principal David Cugini; Arthur Newcombe, the head coach of the football team, and representatives of the Department of Education.
The weight room, which was funded by the Department of Education and the alumni of Wagner High School, is complete and the locker room is under construction.
Principal Cugini called Borough President Fossella “an incredible friend to Susan Wagner and all the schools on Staten Island.”
“He always puts students first,” said Principal Cugini during a press conference in the school. “He wants to give them the best opportunities possible.”
Borough President Fossella said completing the project was about teamwork.
“When you play Bayside this weekend, you’re going to beat Bayside as a team, so we came together as a team to do what we thought was in your interest and to make it better for the Falcons and the Susan Wagner family,” said Borough President Fossella. “I see your slogan over there -- dedication, determination, discipline. And that’s really what life is about, whether it’s a team working out or studying. This is about you, this is about putting the students first and giving you the very best that we can offer. And, now it’s up to you to you take advantage of that, no excuses, do your best, and anything is possible in this great world.”
Borough President Vito Fossella joined his fellow Republicans in blasting the city for its “still of the night deal” to convert the former Island Shores Senior Residence in Midland Beach into a migrant shelter. They also asked for an audit of how much money the city is spending on migrants, a cost which has skyrocketed to a projected $12 billion over the next three years, according to the Independent Budget Office.
He was on a joint phone call with the Department of Homeless Services and Homes for the Homeless -- the nonprofit that owns Island Shores -- for an update on its potential use as a migrant shelter.
“They made it seem as if the agreement was not finalized, no terms, no numbers – and yet they were doing work while we were on the phone,” said Borough President Fossella during a press conference outside of 1111 Father Capodanno Blvd. “So that’s insulting to the 500,000 people on Staten Island. While they’re making these arrangements behind the curtain, we’re asking questions in good faith and we’re trying to get answers in good faith and what happens, they’re sticking them in the still of night.”
He referenced the “legitimate conversations” at the United Nations regarding the border between Russia and the Ukraine, however he said he is more concerned about the border between the United States and Mexico.
“Individuals keep coming from all over the world into Mexico and into the United States and end up right here in Midland Beach or in Arrochar or in Travis or on Tompkins Avenue -- and we’re just supposed to take it,” he said. “We’re the ones that for over a year have been screaming at the loudest voice possible that this policy of inviting individuals in across an open border and then putting them up for free and giving them free food -- and everything that comes with it -- was unstainable. We’re going to keep fighting and keep being the voice of the people who deserve answers today.”
Borough President Vito Fossella joined Mayor Eric Adams, the City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Council Member Kamillah Hanks for the announcement of the $400 million "Staten Island North Shore Action Plan," which will create jobs, housing, a new school, and open space on the waterfront.
The action plan outlines 7,500 family-sustaining jobs, the completion of 2,400 housing units on city-owned property, 600 kindergarten to eighth-grade public school seats, retail developments, and 20-acres of open space. It is expected to generate an economic impact of $3.8 billion.
“We believe the North Shore waterfront is an untapped jewel,” said Borough President Fossella at a press conference. "That jewel should be shined for the whole world to see and for all Staten Islanders to enjoy. We must commit ourselves to use this time to enhance and to improve the waterfront once and for all. We are thankful that Mayor Adams and the NYCEDC delivered on their promise to invest in Staten Island and revitalize an area that has long been ignored. We are excited for the prospect that someday soon, the waterfront will be fully accessible for the community to enjoy and utilized fully for recreation, housing, and community engagement. Additionally, we are excited to see this project be utilized to provide good-paying jobs and economic opportunity for Staten Islanders.”
Also included in the action plan are initiatives to use public investment to support private development, continue supporting arts and culture on the North Shore, and facilitate partnerships between NYCEDC and private stakeholders to prioritize economic mobility and job opportunities for the local community.
Borough President Vito Fossella joined City Department of Transportation Borough Commissioner Roseann Caruana as she announced roadway improvements on Amboy Road to enhance safety outside of Monsignor Farrell High School.
“Amboy Road for a few miles here has been repaved and as you can see behind me these guys are working hard to draw the lines,” said Borough President Fossella during a press conference outside of Farrell. “Just as important to the folks here at Farrell is there is an issue with folks making bad left-hand turns. Really, this is mostly about working together on an issue that is very important to the people of Staten Island -- the quality and condition of the roadways. And we’re here to say it is going to continue to be a priority.”
In addition to repaving with an upgraded asphalt mix, the safety enhancements include barriers to prevent motorists from making illegal left turns into the Farrell parking lot.
“Our priority is improving safety around all the schools on Staten Island and throughout the city,” said Borough Commissioner Caruana. “We saw that this was a school in a dangerous location and we’re hoping this is going to make things safer and more efficient for folks coming in and out of this great high school.”
Farrell High School President Lou Tobacco thanked Borough President Fossella and Commissioner Caruana for their efforts.
“It is our priority and our primary concern to make sure that our students thrive and are educated in a safe environment,” he said. “We are grateful for the cooperation of our community partners for working with us and taking this concern and actually getting the job done.”
A rainbow poked through the clouds over the Postcards Memorial on Monday as a video tribute played to honor the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center 22 years ago.
“We come together, once again, at this glorious memorial to honor the memory of those fallen on that fateful day,” said Borough President Fossella at the September 11 Memorial Ceremony. “We stand together to proclaim that we will never forget so many of our friends and neighbors, your sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and mothers and fathers. We continue to pray to give you the strength to carry on and to cherish each moment, we pray this day is one to remember courage, grace, and love. We pray for each other so that you may be healed. We remember the amazing courage of the heroes who rushed in to help, we remember the people who literally carried people to safety out of the fire and ash, we remember the fireman, the police officers, and other first-responders who ran up knowing they would never come down, we remember the brave passengers who stormed the cockpit knowing it would be their last run, we remember the patriots at the Pentagon and the sacrifices on display for the whole world to see -- and we remember the people who used their last seconds among us to call their families just to say, ‘I love you, I will love you forever.’ We remember all those who lost their lives since 9/11 due to illnesses or injuries they incurred on that tragic day.”
His final message: “We continue to pray that perhaps the evil that existed that day can be overwhelmed by messengers who will remind future generations of the courage, mercy, and bravery of individuals that rose to a level that no one will ever forget.”
Mayor Eric Adams drew on a phrase from our National Anthem.
“Every September 11 for 22 years, we pause and reflect on the moment and how significant it is for us,” said Mayor Adams. “But I also remember another day. I remember September 12. We got up, teachers taught, builders built, we went on with our lives and by doing so we sent a very strong and significant message: ‘The rocket’s red glare, the bomb’s bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there’ – our flag continues to be here.”
Family members recited the names of the victims of 9/11 and those lost in the 22 years since due to their work at Ground Zero, the toll of a solemn bell ringing between the readings. A moment of silence followed.
Jane Benevenuto, accompanied by the Brighton Heights Youth Orchestra, sang the National Anthem. Episcopal Vicar of Staten Island Bishop John O’Hara provided the invocation and Bishop Victor Brown, pastor of United Mount Sinai United Church, offered the benediction. The Staten Island Pipes & Drums played Amazing Grace.
We also wish to thank Gerardi's Farmers Market and Nursery; Flowers by Bernard; the FDNY; the FDNY Ceremonial Unit; the FDNY Marine Unit; the NYPD; the New York City Economic Development Corporation; Friends of Postcards; the United States Coast Guard; the United States Army; ProSho; the Staten Island FerryHawks; Empire Outlets; Gilbane; architect Masayuki Sono, and former Borough President James P. Molinaro. And, a special thank you to Community Media of Staten Island for the first live broadcast of this year's ceremony.
The evening concluded with the performance of Taps by the Tottenville High School Ceremonial Taps Unit. Family members then placed roses between the silhouettes of the Postcards Memorial and along the rain-slicked First Responders Memorial while an FDNY tugboat sprayed water and across the harbor the Tribute In Light rose into the night sky.
Borough President Vito Fossella thanked the New York City Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD for their diligent efforts in seizing products from illegal smoke shops, including raids carried out across Staten Island.
“A lot of folks have legitimately and rightfully complained about what’s going on right in their own backyard, literally, or by a school or by a train station or by a senior center or by a house of worship,” said Borough President Fossella said during a press conference in Borough Hall, standing behind a haul that included cannabis, untaxed cigarettes, flavored vapes, edibles, gummies – and products packaged like chips to attract children. “We understand, it’s a quality-of-life issue, but it’s also a legal issue. We are determined to work as a team to ensure that these illegal shops stop popping up in your neighborhood and where it exists, the sheriff and everybody behind me will be coming for you.”
New York City Sheriff Anthony Miranda held up a bag designed to look like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
“This is something that if a youth picked up, they’re not going to know the difference,” said NYC Sheriff Miranda. “That means if you’re keeping it at home, just keep it away from children. When children think they are taking candy, they don’t take just one, they take four or five. They tend to take the candy away to another room and they’re eating as much as possible and it can lead to your child overdosing."
A joint task force was established last year, which includes the Sheriff’s Office, the Police Department, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, the Department of Buildings, the Health Department and the Fire Department.
Sherriff Miranda provided the following data resulting from the raids since the formation of the task force:
To my fellow Staten Islanders,
Nearly a year ago, I stood outside the Comfort Inn in Travis to oppose its use as a migrant shelter. On that day, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, I said it was an issue created by the federal government, I said it was financially unsustainable, and I said it would not end in Travis.
And, here we are still fighting against the housing of migrants across Staten Island, most prominently at the former St. John Villa Academy in Arrochar and at Island Shores, a one-time assisted living facility in Midland Beach. Now, there is a conversation about the possibility of siting a migrant shelter at our historic Fort Wadsworth, which houses active Coast Guard members who rely on an on-site food pantry because they can’t afford to feed their families. The precedent has been set with the federal government approving a migrant shelter at Floyd Bennet Field in Brooklyn.
We were left with no alternative, but to file a lawsuit against the city to halt the use of Villa as a migrant shelter because our attempts to talk to the mayoral administration were denied. Within hours a vacate order was issued by Supreme Court Judge Wayne Ozzi. However, that victory was short-lived as the Appellate Court removed the vacate order and the former school remains in operation as a migrant shelter.
Less than a year ago, I asked the Independent Budget Office to predict or project how much it would cost to accommodate the migrants at that point in time. And it was about a half-a-billion dollars. It's grown from a half-a-billion to $12 billion in less than a year, and it will continue to grow, and all at the expense of the taxpayers of Staten Island and New York City.
I am sympathetic to those who want to create better lives for themselves and their children. That is what we all want as part of the American dream. But how can we provide free accommodations, free clothing, free education, and free healthcare to thousands of migrants when some of our own neighbors are struggling? It is unfair and it is unjust.
Let me state one thing clearly: I will continue to fight, whether it is through the courts or through productive dialogue. I also maintain my stance that since this is a problem that was created by the federal government, it should be resolved by the federal government.
Borough President Vito J. Fossella
Staten Island Borough President