'Loyalty and Respect:' Borough President Vito Fossella Honors Dennis W. Quirk on his Retirement from Court System
Vito welcomed Dennis W. Quirk into his office to congratulate him upon his retirement after five decades of service to the courts and to thank him for championing the needs of special education students.
In presenting him a proclamation, Vito declared November 15, 2023, as “Dennis W. Quirk Day” in the Borough of Staten Island.
“The two words that come to mind when I think about Dennis are loyalty and respect -- and those things matter,” said Borough President Fossella during the gathering, which included family members, friends, and court staff. “It seems, Dennis, as if you have been enriched with a lot of great things in your life both personally and professionally.”
Mr. Qurik is retiring after 51 years of service to the Unified Court System and serving more than 48 of those years as the President of the New York State Court Officers Association.
Known for his tough-as-nails approach to collective bargaining and grievance procedures, Mr. Quirk has a soft side that shows in his work for special education students and for organizing annual ice-skating parties at the World War II Veterans Memorial Ice-Skating Rink for the Seton Foundation for Learning.
As a Board Member of the Seton Foundation for Learning, he spearheaded the construction of the Bishop Patrick V. Ahern High School and renovated the Mother Franciska Elementary School. To make the multi-purpose room at the Seton Foundation’s Joan Ann Kennedy Memorial Preschool more colorful, he donated a collection of Disney murals to decorate the walls.
Mr. Qurik is a proud father and grandfather and recently held the Bible when his daughter, Susan Quirk, was sworn in as a New York State Supreme Court Justice in Brooklyn.
“It’s been great -- 50 years is a long time,” he said. “I couldn’t have done what I did without the help of so many people. They were always there for me.”
Borough President Vito Fossella announced that he is continuing the brushfire permit program, in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Conservation, which will allow residents in several Staten Island neighborhoods to create a firebreak around their homes.
“This is really all about safety and protecting the homeowners and the firefighters,” said Borough President Fossella during a press conference in South Beach with Council Member David Carr and FDNY Deputy Chief Brian Gorman. “Throughout Staten Island’s history, we’ve had some severe brush fires and one of the reasons is nature -- the phragmites you see here. So, years ago, what we started doing was allowing homeowners to obtain a permit to take care of these phragmites to basically prevent the fire from occurring or to prevent the damage. It’s one of those things where we’re working with nature, not against nature.”
Phragmites, an invasive species of vegetation, are prevalent across the borough, but the neighborhoods of Great Kills, Oakwood Beach, New Dorp Beach, Ocean Breeze, and South Beach have a particularly high rate of this vegetation growing directly next to private homes. Phragmites in dry seasons are fuel for brush fires and pose a hazard to surrounding properties.
“Since this program has been implemented, not one five-alarm fire has started and we have not lost one home to a brushfire,” said Borough President Fossella.
FDNY Deputy Chief Gorman said the program makes it safer for firefighters.
“We operate on risk versus reward and when a home is endangered our risk goes up because the firefighters are going to take a lot more chances,” said FDNY Chief Gorman. “So, when you apply for these permits, it helps significantly. This is our busy time of year for brushfires. We run five brushfire units every day and it’s very impactful when you can cut down the risk for the Fire Department. We appreciate it.”
Residents living in Great Kills, Oakwood Beach, New Dorp Beach, Ocean Breeze, and South Beach can apply for the permit on the Borough Hall website, by email, or by fax at 718-816-2060.
Borough President Vito Fossella attended the ribbon-cutting to celebrate the completion of a massive restoration and renovation project at the historic St. George Theatre.
“Over the years, we have been strong supporters of the St. George Theatre which continues to be a New York City jewel,” said Borough President Fossella during the ceremony in its stately lobby. “We visited the theater last month to observe the finishing touches to the interior, especially the new mosaic artwork and scenery. Simply put, it looks great. We encourage all to stop by the theater to take a look, and, more importantly, to attend a show. They are terrific.”
The work included restoration of the lobby, repairing the interior plaster and paintwork and the installation of a new mosaic at the outdoor entrance.
Ground was broken on the 2,800-seat St. George Theatre in August of 1928 and the doors opened on Dec. 4, 1929, with the vision of a “dream” show house rivaling those in Manhattan. The foyer was illuminated by large stained-glass chandeliers and winding staircases leading up to the mezzanine level. Hanging above the grand lobby were oversized paintings of a bullfight and a Spanish village. The first movie to play was “So This Is College” and the headline act was the husband-and-wife team of Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields.
The theater was sold in 1938 to the Fabian Theater chain, which continued to operate it as a movie palace until 1977. In the intervening years, the space was unsuccessfully used a roller skating rink, an antiques showroom, and a nightclub. An attempt was made in the mid-1990s to reopen it as a performing arts center, which ultimately failed. Except for filming the finale of the 2003 film “School of Rock” at the theatre, the venue was basically dark for over 30 years.
In 2004, Rosemary Cappozalo and her daughters, Luanne Sorrentino and Doreen Cugno, started a not-for-profit organization to save this historic theater from being torn down. Mrs. Rosemary, a prominent dance educator, donated her life savings (over $1 million) to the organization and “saved” the St. George Theatre.
Borough President Vito Fossella, Council Members Announce Funding For College Of Staten Island's Center for the Arts
Borough President Vito Fossella joined Council Member Joseph C. Borelli, Council Member David Carr, and Council Member Kamillah Hanks to announce the contributions of funds totaling $3 million for the Center for the Arts at the College of Staten Island.
The lighting project at CSI will overhaul all five theater spaces to include dimmer systems and control of 1P auditorium chandeliers and house lighting. The new lighting system will allow for a full return to activity in the theaters, which are used year-round for CSI events and community functions and shows. The scope will also include upgrades to audio visual equipment, as well.
“This is how we come together to make things better, not just for the College of Staten Island, but for all of Staten Island,” said Borough President Fossella. “Thousands of young people come here every day and we are committed to do what we can to improve the conditions here at the College of Staten Island."
CSI President Dr. Timothy J. Lynch said the rehabilitation project will begin immediately.
“The Center for the Arts is located in the heart of our campus and has long been a place where the Staten Island community has gathered for entertainment and public assemblies, and students in our music, dance, drama, performing and creative arts programs get to perform, study, and hone their skills on these stages,” said Dr. Lynch. “These funds will bring the rehabilitation needed to these spaces and will allow us to continue to be a focal point of Staten Island’s arts and cultural community.”
Borough President Vito Fossella was on hand as Mayor Eric Adams announced the completion of the $110 million New Creek Bluebelt Expansion to prevent flooding on Staten Island. The announcement was made on the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which tragically claimed the lives of 24 Staten Islanders.
The New Creek Bluebelt Expansion consists of three connected projects in parts of Midland Beach, Grant City, Dongan Hills, and Todt Hill. Stormwater that falls on roadways, rooftops, and sidewalks in those areas will now drain into new catch basins and storm sewers and will be discharged into the New Creek Bluebelt. From there, it will slowly make its way into lower New York Bay while being naturally filtered along the way.
Borough President Fossella described the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in the neighborhoods surrounding the project as “hell on earth” and said the drainage project was completed at almost half the cost of installing new sewers.
“We not only lost life, but the property damage that occurred was just unbelievable,” said Borough President Fossella during a press conference. “And here we are, in a restoration of sorts that is a win-win not just for the people who live here, but for all people across Staten Island."
He recalled intense flooding in South Beach where he grew up.
“I know what it was like when the rains came and the floods came, and it was not pretty,” said Borough President Fossella. “To know that we are making significant progress to allow these homeowners and residents peace of mind when the storms come that they don't have to run to the basement to bail themselves is great.”
Borough President Vito Fossella sent a message to the University of Pennsylvania, which is his alma mater -- and to all institutions of higher learning -- that there should not be any hesitation in condemning terrorist attacks and that it is time for universities and colleges to revisit and re-affirm their core values.
Shortly after the Hamas attacks on Israel, a festival on the Penn campus showcased Palestinian art and culture. Though it was not sponsored by the University, it led major donors -- from billionaire hedge fund managers to high-profile television and movie producers -- to pull their funding.
“In the wake of these attacks, I couldn’t believe the expressions of support for the Hamas massacre on the campuses of some of our most prestigious universities and colleges, including Penn, Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia,” said Borough President Fossella at a press conference outside of the Penn Club of New York. “As a proud Wharton graduate, and someone who cares deeply about the University of Pennsylvania, I believe we must speak out when we see something so wrong like we did recently -- the University’s failure to immediately condemn the Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel. When Penn provides a platform, space, and facilities with some faculty participation to host an event, even if that event is not officially sponsored by the University, there is a reasonable perception on the part of many that Penn shares most of the positions voiced at the event.”
Borough President Fossella said his “true desire is that Penn -- and other institutions of higher learning -- use this opportunity as a pivot point to reaffirm their responsibility to offer a town square for free speech, but also make it clear that there should be no hesitation in condemning this terrorist attack.”
“Together, we all need to pull together to stop evil in its tracks,” he said. “There are many donors and others who recently announced that they would no longer give money, but to me this is about more than money, but about getting Penn and other universities to re-establish their core sense of values. As we’ve all been forewarned, teach your children well.”
Borough President Vito Fossella capped off the revitalization of Curtis High School’s front plaza with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the culmination of several months of work done on the landmarked school’s entrance.
The Curtis High School Borough Student Advisory Council appealed to Borough President Fossella after recounting constant tripping and flooding issues associated with the plaza’s old pavers. In June, he answered their request by allocating $250,000 in capital funding to replace the pavers, the first replacement in over 90 years, as well as replacing the grating to mitigate ponding issues. Additionally, Curtis High School invested in beautifying the plaza with boxwood shrubs and uplighting, as well as raising the curbs to prevent flooding.
“The reality was there were safety hazards and it wasn’t right,” said Borough President Fossella at a press conference outside of Curtis. “It took a collaborative effort. To the students -- thank you very much for bringing this to our attention, we’re happy to do it. Although, we started with the request just about pavers, we figured we were going to do it right so we changed the landscaping here with the boxwood hedges, cut some branches, and ultimately, there will be some nice uplighting so you could see this gorgeous building behind us.”
Borough President Fossella also pointed out a special guest who was in attendance for the ceremony.
“Generations of students have made this place shine,” he said. “One of those students, who graduated in 1957, is a proud Curtis alum and is my father. And although we did not plan it, today is his birthday.”
Principal Greg Jaenicke thanked Borough President Fossella for the funds to restore Curtis, often referred to the “Castle On The Hill.”
“The need for a renovation and refurbishment of this pathway became evermore apparent as missing and cracked bricks, casualties of age, weather and the footsteps of thousands of students, staff and visitors over the years began to multiply in recent years,” said Principal Jaenicke. “For us, as the borough president mentioned, it was first about safety, but it was also about aesthetics and keeping the historic site well-maintained, preserved and poised to serve the community for many, many more years to come.”
Borough President Vito Fossella gathered with his fellow elected officials and representatives from the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island and the Council of Jewish Organizations to stand in solidarity with Israel after last weekend's terrorist attacks left more than 1,000 dead.
"The people of Staten Island understand, sadly, what terrorism is about," said Borough President Fossella at a press conference in the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC. "When we were attacked, Israel stood with us. Now when Israel is attacked, we must stand with them."
Deputy and Acting Consul General of Israel Tsach Saar said the “cruelty was unprecedented.”
“The victims were Jews, non-Jews, Israelis and Americans from civilians to soldiers from the young to the elderly,” he said. “The atrocities committed are unspeakable. These were not just acts against Israel, but against America, against the free world, against all of humanity.”
Mendy Mirocznik, the president of the board of directors of the Council of Jewish Organizations, recounted a phone call with his son, Ariel, who is studying in Israel.
“We spoke to Ariel, our son just turned 18, and his reaction was ‘mom and dad, I am not leaving -- this is my home, my cousins were taken to the front to mobilize, and my contribution is to make the lives of the soldiers easier and to show moral support to the people of my nation. I am staying here.’’’
Borough President Vito Fossella visited Staten Island Technical High School to congratulate them after they were ranked as the number one best high school out of 25 across New York State by Niche, which reviews schools throughout the country.
“The formula for success is like a three-legged stool: It’s the students, it’s the parents and it’s the professionals who walk the hallways every day at Staten Island Tech,” said Borough President Fossella during a press conference, echoing the philosophy set forth Principal Mark Erlenwein. “You don’t want to brag or spike the ball too much, but you work very hard, you commit yourself every day and you have found your way. We couldn’t be prouder. You give us great joy and we know your best days are ahead of you.”
Principal Erlenwein called the ranking a team effort.
“First and foremost, I want to say congratulations to the whole Staten Island Technical High School family -- and that includes past, present and future,” he said.
“It’s a communal effort. Everything works better when we do it together.”
Abigail Hecht, a senior, recalled that her parents wanted to move during her freshman year. She responded by telling them how hard she worked to get into Tech: “I am staying here.”
“The past four years have been an absolute honor to walk these halls,” she said. “I’ve only had a positive experience. It’s not only about the academics, but it’s about the extracurriculars, the sports and the sense of community that I feel every day.”
A special guest was U.S. Army Lt. Col. Adam Scher, a Tech alumni who was nominated to the United States Army Military Academy West Point by then-Congressman Fossella.
“It truly is an honor and a privilege to be here because my story is Staten Island Tech’s story,” he said. “What I found in these hallways was a passion for public service that made me decide that I wanted to lead our country in uniform. This award is truly a credit to the students who come through these halls every day and take advantage of the leadership the teachers provide. I am motivated every single day to know that we are surrounded by the next generation of leaders who are going to help solve the world’s toughest problems.”
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
A judge issued a vacate order to halt the use of the former St. John Villa Academy as a migrant shelter -- less than 24 hours after Borough President Vito Fossella and his fellow elected officials filed a lawsuit.
“Normally, people would just roll over, but not here on Staten Island and not here in Arrochar,” said Borough President Fossella at a press conference outside of Villa. “People came out, the people who live here and people from across Staten Island -- and I am sure if they had more time and perhaps no conflicts, you would have had tens of thousands of people here.”
Borough President Fossella said there were no alternatives left aside from filing a lawsuit.
“We tried to talk to the city into moving into a different direction and we were denied,” he said. “But the elected officials who stand behind me grouped together and said we will not let this stand, we will fight and we will not lay down.”
The vacate order cites four causes of action:
Earlier in the day, Borough President Fossella and the same group of elected officials stood outside of Villa to announce that they had filed the lawsuit. As soon as it was over, their lawyers Mark J. Fonte and Lou Gelormino rushed to the courthouse where they received the vacate order.
“Nobody thought we would prevail,” said Borough President Fossella, holding the vacate order. “This document is a victory for the people of Arrochar, for the people of Staten Island, for the people of St. Joseph Hill and for the people of PS 39. This is common sense, this is decency and this is what this country should be about.”
Borough President Vito Fossella joined Rep. Nicole Malliotakis as she announced plans to introduce legislation to ban migrant housing on the historic grounds of Fort Wadsworth at a press conference on Wednesday.
He recalled recently standing in the same spot last year to call on Staten Islanders to donate goods to a pantry operated by the Blue Star Families at Fort Wadsworth “so that active military personnel could take care of their own children.”
“And, yet the federal government has no problem saying we’re thinking about putting these folks up here for free, feeding them for free, giving them a free education, free accommodations, free healthcare, free phones and free debit cards,” Borough President Fossella said. “How is that logical, how is that right and how is that consistent with the American way?”
Borough President Fossella said the idea of housing migrants at Fort Wadsworth was like a scenario proposed three decades ago.
“Thirty years ago, when this facility was transferred from the Department of Defense to the National Park Service, the city tried to carve out about a third of it for homeless facilities and they were overruled," he said. "So, this is not the first attempt to house asylum seekers or the homeless here at Fort Wadsworth. If you want to put folks who may have come here illegally and may be sent back, put them on Ellis Island. I don’t hear anyone talking about opening Ellis Island for tents. How about Governor’s Island? No, instead we're going to put them right here on Staten Island, near the people who built this community. I grew up right outside of Fort Wadsworth. My family has been here since 1947. We were taught to respect what was behind this fence. Now, how can we with this proposal?"
Borough President Vito Fossella will sponsor the inaugural Staten Island Borough President’s Bocce Cup Tournament at Monsignor Farrell High School.
“We have high expectations, it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be competitive, it’s going to be a nice time for all of us to get together,” said Borough President Fossella.
The tournament will feature 20 teams of four players with a four-team waiting list. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis by way of scanning the QR code on the Bocce Cup flyer or on the Borough Hall Facebook Page.
On the day of the tournament, teams can check in at 9 a.m. with play beginning shortly after 10 a.m.
The tournament will be commissioned by Guy De Santis and chaired by Lou Tobacco. It is sponsored by Community Media of Staten Island, Bario's Restaurant and Catering, Vino Divino and Joyce's Tavern.
We’re excited to support the growing bocce ball community on Staten Island.
Borough President Vito Fossella Congratulates Staten Island University Hospital For High Ranking In U.S. News & World Report
Borough President Vito Fossella congratulated the staff at Staten Island University for being ranked as one of the top hospitals in New York State by U.S. News & World Report.
Staten Island University Hospital came in at number 13 in the state rankings. Additionally, the hospital ranked as High Performing in six adult specialties and 11 procedures, ranging from colon and lung cancer surgery to heart bypass surgery and cardiac and stroke care.
“I think it is so vitally important to say, as we all know, if you’re living on Staten Island, you’re going to end up at Staten Island University Hospital here in the Emergency Department or here in one of the in-patient beds if you fall ill,” said Borough President Fossella at a press conference. “The 7,000 professionals who cater to the Staten Island population and beyond come to this building -- and the one on the South Shore -- every day to try to deliver the best care possible, and you do that through a culture of collaboration and of compassion. At one point in the future, we believe that Staten Island University Hospital will be one of the best hospitals in the entire country and that’s the goal. We just wanted to come by and say thank you to all the healthcare professionals for what you do every day and to thank you for taking care of our neighbors.”
Dr. Brahim Ardolic, executive director of SIUH, said while moving up in the rankings is important, taking care of their patients is the top priority.
“This is not the work of one person or really the work of 100 people, it really does take the work of thousands of people -- it takes the work of 7,000 strong across Staten Island,” said Dr. Ardolic. “It doesn’t change the fact that at the end of the day, the most important thing that we do is to take care of the people of Staten Island, so while I want to be the highest rated orthopedic, neurological and every other snazzy specialty there is, at the end of the day, we still have the responsibility to be here every day to take care of the person who falls down, we still have the responsibility to take care of the person who comes in and just has their basic emergency -- to get people back to health whether its everything from the presentation of your illness to your private doctor or to finishing up your rehab until you go home. Our goal is to provide a place where you can have the highest quality care and where you don’t have to leave your own community.”
Borough President Vito Fossella said he plans to restore the Firefighters Memorial which was destroyed when it was hit by a car on Aug. 14.
The Firefighters Memorial has stood for 30 years at the intersection of Clove Road, Richmond Road, Targee Steet and Narrows Road North in Concord.
Borough President Fossella surveyed the damage when he visited the site on Tuesday.
A six-foot tall stone statue in the center of the memorial, which is etched with the names of fallen firefighters and the Firefighers Prayer, was knocked to the ground, along with a flag pole and a piece of steel from the World Trade Center.
Still standing were a monument in honor of 9/11 and a statue of a firefighter hugging Jesus.
A granite wall with the names of firefighters who died in the World Trade Center attacks was delivered on Tuesday as part of move from the Church of St. Peter-St. Paul before it is sold.
“The wall is now up, the stuff that was damaged was taken away,” said Borough President Fossella, expressing relief that the wall was moved after the accident.
He promised to replace anything that can be salvaged back at the site, particularly the flagpole and the steel from the World Trade Center site.