Merlino & Gonzalez September 2017

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September 2017





How Merlino & Gonzalez Helped Us Move

John’s name. It immediately rang a bell. “Is he from Staten Island?” I asked Kathy. She said he was, and I realized that our children were classmates at Our Lady Star of the Sea. That coincidence was enough to convince me that they were right for the job, as I wanted somebody with local connections I could trust. Even still, they exceeded my expectations at every turn. As I’ve recently learned, real estate works a lot differently in Florida than it does in New York. They don’t usually work with attorneys, and they are not as flexible when it comes to closing dates. We needed to make sure our house was sold within 24 hours of closing on the new one. You might figure this is pretty hard to do when those houses are thousands of miles away. John said not to worry. He’d handle the sale in New York while we were arriving in our new home state. The sale went off without a hitch, and his honesty and diligence put our minds at ease. But it wasn’t just the legal stuff that made John and the team incredible in my eyes. They were willing to do anything to make our transitions easier. John called me one day asking if there was anything he could do at the school to help. After we moved, we received a care package full of goodies that Merlino & Gonzalez sent to our new house. They were thoughtful, considerate, and personable whenever we needed them. I know a lot of people like to complain about dealing with lawyers. After my experience with Merlino & Gonzalez, I have nothing to complain about. Thanks to John and the team for making sure our dream move never turned into a nightmare.

A word from John Merlino Jr., Esq.:

Rather than regaling you with my recent adventures — suffice it to say they would warrant even a short scene on my current favorite show, “Game of Thrones” — I wanted to use this space to highlight the most important people here at Merlino & Gonzalez: our clients. They are the people who make this firm what it is more than any other, so it only makes sense to let them tell you a bit about their experience in their own words. This month, we are featuring Adrienne Bruccoleri, who recently moved to Florida with her family. Take it away, Adrienne. Recently, my family and I made the decision to pack up our belongings in Queens and make the move down to Florida. Moving is never fun, let alone when you are selling a house in one state and buying one in another. Thankfully, we had the help of John Merlino, who made sure everything went as smooth as possible. The entire firm was wonderful every step of the way, and it’s hard to imagine what the move would’ve been like without them.

It’s actually a pretty funny story how I got in touch with the folks at Merlino & Gonzalez. As we were selling our house, I realized we would need an attorney. I spoke to my real estate agent, Kathy Barzal, and she mentioned

Adrienne Bruccoleri



How to Demystify Your Kids’ Jampacked Schedules EXTRACURRICULAR OVERLOAD

Every parent knows that a poorly organized tangle of kids’ activities is a recipe for a migraine. As school starts up again, so does sports season, and your kids’ extracurricular ambitions pile up like the falling autumn leaves. Don’t let yourself get burned out. Here are some tips to stay sane in the midst of the extracurricular whirlwind. Consolidate all your scheduling, jotting, and activity-tracking into one system. Let’s get one thing straight: You can’t afford to be scrawling “Abby piano lesson rescheduled 9/21” on the first scrap of paper you come across. That doesn’t mean you have to be hyper-organized, but it does mean that you need to keep your entire calendar in one place, whether that place is Google Calendar, a fridge whiteboard, or the old-fashioned standby: a calendar with a lighthouse on every page. One particularly attractive option is the Cozi app (, which not only consolidates an entire family’s calendars, but allows you to include to-do lists, shopping lists, recipes, chore checklists, and more. Whichever system you choose, keep it updated. Its word is law. Form parent alliances. Those soccer practices

Jacob’s going to? There are other teammates there, and they have parents shuttling them around, just like you are. Set up carpools — Noah’s mom drives them both Tuesday while you’ve got Thursdays — to manage scheduling conflicts between your kids and drastically reduce the time you spend as a chauffeur. To simplify the process and make sure everyone’s on the same page, check out the Carpool-Kids app at carpool- It’ll let you directly invite other parents and set up weekly or one-shot carpool schedules. Maintain balance. You almost certainly will need to say no to additional extracurricular activities every now and then. Sure, simultaneous baseball, football, and soccer seasons might seem healthy and fun for your kid, but you need to consider your own needs, as well. Many parents give their children free rein over what to choose, but limit activities to one or two per season. Johnny wants to do underwater basket weaving? Strange choice, but sure — though he’ll have to abandon either fencing or ice hockey. Make sure you weigh each child’s needs equally, and keep the rules the same for each of them.

A NUTTY AFTERNOON As an estate planning firm, we are often helping clients safely for a few hours, whipping everyone up into a frenzy. Eventually, John and Ken, our always fearless leaders, got out some brooms and chased the monster out of the office. He was returned safely to his natural habitat, but not without causing some serious damage first. Rocky the Squirrel Attacks Our Office

squirrel away their assets for future generations. A few weeks ago at Merlino & Gonzalez, that phrase became a lot more literal. We were simply going about our regular business when we began to hear a rustling noise behind one of our walls. Turns out, a squirrel had somehow snuck into our office. And he wasn’t there to work on his will. Now, we’re an office of animal lovers here at Merlino & Gonzalez, but we’re guessing you don’t want a squirrel running around your workplace either. This little guy terrorized us

Luckily, nobody was hurt, but the building didn’t fare as well. Our friend, who we’ve named Rocky, caused a flood in the basement, wrecking some sheet rock. The real concerns, though, were the wires he managed to snack on. We were worried that our beloved office might catch fire, but we avoided that fate. When we had an electrician come to fix everything, he said we were fortunate that the damage wasn’t worse. Who knew that a little squirrel was capable of causing so much trouble? Everything is back to normal now, but we are making a little policy change to ensure that we don’t invite anymore critters like Rocky back into our walls. Every employee is required to keep any nuts they bring in for a snack under lock and key. Hopefully that’ll do the trick!


WHY PRICES ARE ON THE RISE The Boom in Staten Island Real Estate

With real estate prices rising across the New York Metropolitan area, it was only a matter of time before the boom hit Staten Island. Over the past couple years, both residential and commercial real estate prices have seen a tremendous rise. The market on the North Shore is particularly strong, but all areas of the island are experiencing some degree of price increase. There are a number of reasons for this rise, and we wanted to investigate a few of them here. There is a little bit of cause and effect at play between commercial and residential prices. Commercial growth is happening at an unprecedented rate, spiking residential rates in turn. Without question, the biggest project underway is the creation of the New York Wheel. Conceived several years ago, it will be the largest Ferris wheel in the world. This marquee attraction will lure Manhattan tourists who might not visit Staten Island otherwise. Alongside the New York Wheel, the North Shore Waterfront is undergoing an expansive revitalization. Included in this development are the Empire Outlets, The Urby, and over 1,500 new rental units.

Previously, Staten Island was viewed as a suburban borough in an otherwise metropolitan city. Now, Staten Island offers something for every type of potential buyer and resident. In addition to development projects, there are plenty of other factors contributing to the boom. It’s a seller’s market right now, with house inventory decreasing. Brooklyn and even Queens have become largely unaffordable for the average family, driving homebuyers to Staten Island. Longtime residents of other boroughs are selling high and getting more space here. In addition, investors Whether you’re looking to buy or sell during this exciting time in Staten Island real estate, you’ll need an experienced attorney to help guide you through the process. The team at Merlino & Gonzalez has been navigating the market for years and can make sure you get exactly what you’re looking for.



Grid n°1669070380 easy


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• 2 tablespoons olive oil • 2 tablespoons butter • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds) • Salt and freshly ground black pepper • ½ Vidalia onion, chopped

• 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into ¼-inch wedges • 3 cloves garlic, minced • 2 teaspoons dried thyme • 2 bay leaves • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour • 1½ cups apple cider get color and onions soften, about 6 minutes. Add flour and stir for 2–3 minutes. 4. Nestle chicken back into pan, add cider, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes.

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1. Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. 2. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, add to pan and sear until golden, about 4 minutes each side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. 3. Add remaining butter, onion, apple, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Sauté until apple begins to

Recipe courtesy of

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394 Manor Rd, Staten Island, NY 10314



From Queens to Florida Extracurricular Overload A Nutty Afternoon The Boom in Staten Island Real Estate Apple Cider Chicken A Celebration of Hard Work


As for who brought the tradition to our country, there are two competing candidates. Peter J. McGuire, a carpenter and member of the American Federation of Labor, witnessed the celebrations in Canada and proposed a similar parade to New York City’s Central Labor Union in 1882. That same year, machinist Matthew Maguire proposed a national Labor Day after a public demonstration by the Central Labor Union. Labor Day didn’t become a federal holiday, though, until a few years later. In 1894, the American Railway Union went on strike against the Pullman Company in what is now known as the Pullman Strike. President Grover Cleveland called in the Army and U.S. Marshals in an attempt to break the strike, and several workers in Chicago lost their lives. In an effort to quell tensions and garner union vote support, President Cleveland signed Labor Day into law just six days after the strike ended. Our country would not be what it is today without the immense effort of laborers. As you enjoy the last long weekend before fall, take a moment to acknowledge just what a difference these hardworking people make.

Americans work hard, and on the first Monday of every September we take a moment to acknowledge their efforts. Labor Day has a fascinating history, and one that you might not expect. The roots of Labor Day stretch back to the Industrial Revolution, when jobs became plentiful, but not without a cost. As conditions worsened and work days grew longer, unions sprang up as a way to protect the rights of the common laborer. Workers in Canada didn’t fare quite so well because unions were illegal. In 1872, workers marched directly to the door of Canadian Prime Minister John Macdonald, demanding the right to organize. He relented, and the march became a Canadian tradition. 4

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