Tag Archives: City Council

Jackson Heights, Elmhurst district schools to receive $2.4M in funding


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

One local elected official is reaching out to help a handful of schools in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst continue to shine.

Councilman Daniel Dromm, who is the chair of the City Council’s education committee, announced on Monday that he has allocated a total of $2.4 million for schools in his district for the upcoming fiscal year.

The money will go toward improvements including security camera installations, electrical wiring replacements, audio/visual system enhancement, library upgrades, and repairs to school PA systems and playgrounds.

“Securing this historic increase in funding was a top priority for me,” said Dromm, who is a former New York City public school teacher for 25 years. “Our kids get one chance at a quality education. I’m doing everything I can to support our public schools. These funds will ensure that our children have access to safe schools and the updated technology they need to be successful.”

The schools that have received a portion of the funding include Public Schools 7, 13, 23, 69, 89, 102, 148, 149, 211, 212, 255 and 280; Intermediate Schools 230, 145, and 5; Pan American International High School, John F. Kennedy Jr. High School, Newtown High School, and the International High School for Health Sciences.

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Street to be co-named after architect who helped design Sunnyside Gardens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

Sunnyside Gardens will soon remember one of the women who envisioned the landscape and architecture that make up the neighborhood today.

The City Council unanimously passed a bill last week that would co-name streets throughout the city, including 45th Street between Skillman and 39th avenues, which will be named in honor of Marjorie Sewell Cautley as “Marjorie Sewell Cautley Way.”

Cautley, who died in 1954, was an American landscape architect who was known for her interest in the design of communal spaces and is remembered as being influential in the design of Sunnyside Gardens, along with other neighborhoods – such as Phipps Garden Apartments, Hillside Homes and Radburn in New Jersey.

“From her efforts to help build Sunnyside Gardens – one of our city’s first affordable housing developments – to developing the Phipps Garden Apartments, Ms. Cautley has established herself as one of America’s premier landscape architects,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “It is important that we commemorate her work here in Sunnyside while celebrating the lasting impact she has had on our community.”

Cautley has been credited for the design of Sunnyside Garden’s “superblocks,” where the houses lean toward rear courts, and for her use of native plants in all her projects.

In 1935, she became landscape consultant to the state of New Hampshire and oversaw the construction of 10 state parks, and she also taught at Columbia University and MIT. Later that year she also published a book called “Garden Design.”

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Astoria street to be co-named after late community leader


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

The dedication and hard work of one Astoria community leader, who passed away earlier this year, will live on in the neighborhood he helped flourish.

The City Council unanimously passed a bill Thursday that would co-name streets throughout the city, including 30th Avenue between 30th and 29th streets, which will be named in honor of Dennis Syntilas, who died on Jan. 7.

Syntilas, 85, was a civic leader and community organizer in Astoria who helped bring the culture of Greece to Queens. He was the founder of the community-based organization Greek-American Homeowners Association, which helps connect Greek-Americans with government resources and promotes civic engagement.

“I am proud to honor Dennis Syntilas and his family with this street co-naming. His contributions to his community have been longstanding. Syntilas worked to improve Astoria by promoting Hellenic and Democratic values through his founding of Athens Square and the Greek-American Homeowners Association,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides, who co-sponsored the co-naming bill. “He is a great example of civic engagement and responsibility throughout our community. This recognition will forever commemorate his tireless work and contributions to our city.”

Syntilas was also one of the forces behind the creation of Athens Square Park on 30th Avenue, where the street will be co-named Dennis Syntilas Way. The park serves as a public space functioning as both a cultural center and recreational site with a playground, amphitheater and numerous sculptures of ancient Greek figures.

“If Dennis was with us today, he would be proud to see how well his dream has come to life. It is an honor to continue his legacy through the addition of Dennis Syntilas Way,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “He made so many sacrifices not just for this park but for our entire community and all the immigrants who made their way here over the decades.”

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Maspeth, Middle Village set to co-name two streets for community leaders


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Google Maps

The City Council unanimously passed a bill Thursday that includes the proposed co-naming of two Queens streets, one in Maspeth and the other in Middle Village.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley proposed the bill to honor Frank Kowalinski and Bishop Joseph Sullivan.

Maspeth Avenue between 61st and 64th streets is slated to become Frank Kowalinski Way. Kowalinski was born in 1894 and grew up on Clinton Avenue. In 1918, Kowalinski became the first U.S. Army soldier of Polish decent to be killed in combat during World War I. In honor of his service, the local veterans post in Maspeth is named after Kowalinski.

Middle Village will see 71st Street, from Eliot Avenue south of the railroad, be named Bishop Joseph Sullivan Way.

Sullivan served the Our Lady of Hope parish since its founding in 1960 until his death in 2013. Sullivan was also involved with several Catholic charities, hospitals and other religious, interreligious and secular organizations.

“Recognizing and memorializing the dedication of these two men to their country and community is truly a privilege,” Crowley said. “Queens is both fortunate and unique in that it has a history of such strong public servants, whether they are soldiers or clergymen. It is only right to post their names for all to see in the neighborhoods they have made such an impact on. That way, their legacy can live on for generations to come.”

The dates for the co-naming ceremonies have yet to be determined.

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Ulrich secures a record $5.6 million in funding for district


| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Southwest Queens will receive $5,685,000 in funding from the City Council, the most that has ever been awarded to the 32nd City Council District.

Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents neighborhoods including the Rockaways, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven and South Richmond Hill, secured $685,000 in expense funding for local community groups, civic associations, senior centers, volunteer fire departments and other local groups.

New York Families for Autistic Children, Inc.Queens Chamber of CommerceHoward Beach- Lindenwood CivicRockaway Point Volunteer Emergency Services and Girl Scout Council of Greater New York were among the grant recipients.

“Above all, this year’s budget keeps New Yorkers and their families safe and protects the vital services we all rely upon,” Ulrich said. “It also provides funding for local groups that serve my constituents in every corner of the district. Since taking office, I have made sure that we receive our fair share of city services and resources in the budget. This year is no exception.”

Local schools in the district will receive funding for SAT programs and the $5 million allocated to capital projects will fund technology upgrades at 17 local schools and school library and auditorium renovations.

Forest Park will receive a number of enhancements and improved security measures. Residents who voted in the participatory budgeting process chose to refurbish the 9/11 Memorial and the Forest Park Dog Run and to install emergency call boxes throughout the park.

Libraries in Ozone Park and Richmond Hill have been awarded $200,000 for security upgrades and renovations.

The Richmond Hill library will look to install self-check-in and check-out machines, renovate the basement and purchase new computers and tablets, according to Rebecca Babirye-Alibatya, the library’s manager.

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Queens lawmakers celebrate Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office

BY ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND ROBERT POZARYCKI

Updated 12:21 p.m.

Same-sex marriage is constitutional, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a 5-4 decision issued Friday morning, the court overturned state-imposed bans on same-sex marriage. The court ruled that gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry under the 14th Amendment through the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

“The fundamental liberties” in the Due Process Clause “extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs,” according to the decision.

Queens lawmakers and gay rights advocates – including City Councilman Daniel Dromm – expressed delight in the decision in statements issued Friday morning.

“Marriage is finally equal,” said Dromm, who is one of Queens’ two openly gay City Council members. “No longer will there be gay marriage or heterosexual marriage – just marriage. As someone who has been in the gay rights movement for over 40 years, it is difficult to express my sentiments. I never thought I would live to see this day. God bless America.”

Dromm will join other Queens LGBTQ activists and supporters on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in front of the Jackson Heights Post Office, located at 78-02 37th Ave., to celebrate the Court’s decision.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who is the second openly gay Queens City Council member, released a statement Friday together with his husband, Dan Hendrick.

“Today’s Supreme Court Decision is a landmark ruling making marriage equality the law of the land. Make no mistake, this decision is historic and breathtaking in its recognition of the equality inherent in love,” Van Bramer said. “We have been moved to tears this morning, knowing that the pain and stigma of being unequal is lifted. Of knowing that our relationship and our love is recognized by our country and is just as valid, beautiful and equal as any other.”

“Thanks to today’s ruling, same-sex couples across the country will no longer be treated as second-class citizens when it comes to issues regarding the family,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “This is a great day for those who believe in the dignity of all people.”

“History will remember this day as a watershed moment, a day when ‘we the people’ took another major step toward justice in our enormous and enduring struggle to form a more perfect union,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley.

“When we passed the Marriage Equality Act in 2011, New York sent a message to the nation that it was time to end one of society’s greatest inequities, and I am thrilled to see the court join us on the right side of history,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “Today, we are proud New Yorkers and proud Americans. Today, progress marches on.”

“One of my proudest moments as a legislator was my vote for marriage equality in New York State; today I am equally proud that the United States Supreme Court extended these rights to all Americans,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas. “This ruling sends a strong message that bigotry and intolerance will not be the law of the land.”

“Our country will finally afford millions of Americans the rights they have always deserved, but until now were unable to exercise,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Today, this country is richer – filled with more equality, more acceptance, and more love than yesterday. And for the people of this city, where the movement for LGBT rights began in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, we can be proud that we helped blaze the trail to this great victory.”

“From this moment on and for generations to come, marriage equality is a civil and human right for LGBTQ couples and no one – no matter where you live in this country or who you love – will be denied that right,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“As has been said, ‘the arc of history is long and it bends in the direction of justice,” said Sen. Charles Schumer. “Thank you to five Supreme Court heroes for helping bend it a little sooner.”

The court was ideologically split in its decision, as Justice Anthony Kennedy – regarded as its most moderate member – sided in the majority with the court’s four liberal justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer. The conservative wing – Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito – voted in the minority.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Supreme Court

Photo courtesy of U.S. Supreme Court

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Retired NYPD captain to launch bid for open City Council seat as Republican


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook/ Joseph Concannon

When he first campaigned for City Council two years ago, retired NYPD Capt. Joseph Concannon ran on the Reform Party line and was trounced at the polls on Election Day by the incumbent, Councilman Mark Weprin.

Now that Weprin is out of the City Council and in with the Cuomo administration, Concannon is going for the now-vacant 23rd Council District seat again, but this time as a Republican.

Concannon is scheduled to formally announce his campaign on Monday, alongside Queens GOP leaders and supporters in front of the 105th Precinct stationhouse in Queens Village.

“Over the past few weeks and months, my close friends and family have been encouraging me to take my zeal for public service and community activism to the next level,” Concannon said in a press release issued Thursday. “Many of my friends as well as the people I meet every day express their dismay with the current leadership in the City Council, our mayor and the direction this city is headed in as a whole.”

While five Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination in the September primary, the Republicans appear to be unifying early around Concannon. Sources with the Queens GOP indicated earlier this week that he is the only Republican seeking the seat.

More evidence of GOP unity was noted in Concannon’s press release, which listed Queens GOP Chairman Bob Turner, Councilman Eric Ulrich — the lone Queens Republican in the city legislature — and Queens Conservative Party Chairman Tom Long as guests scheduled to attend the campaign launch.

In August 2013, Concannon launched a challenge to then-Councilman Weprin after the City Council passed into law the Community Safety Act, two bills bringing greater oversight to the NYPD and aiming to end “bias-based profiling.” Concannon opposed the act, claiming the regulations would impede police officers in their service, and received the support of numerous unions representing members of the NYPD.

Even so, Weprin was re-elected in November with 84 percent of the vote in the district covering all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

Since then, Concannon has remained politically active in holding rallies calling for public support of the NYPD, most recently following the murders of Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn last December, and P.O. Brian Moore in Queens Village in May.

“Not since the violence and division this city faced decades ago have people felt so disconnected from their government,” Concannon said in Thursday’s press release. “I am running to restore some respect and common sense to our local government, the kind of common sense that is embarrassingly lacking in the NYC Council.”

Concannon added that he plans “to spend the next few weeks and months earning the right to be their voice and champion.”

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Celia Dosamantes, former Meng and Weprin aide, officially seeking City Council seat


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Celia Dosamantes

A former aide to Assemblyman David Weprin will run for his brother’s vacant City Council seat.

Celia Dosamantes confirmed to The Courier that she will run in the upcoming special election for the 23rd District seat, which covers Bellerose, Glen Oaks, Queens Village, Oakland Gardens and other eastern Queens neighborhoods. Councilman Mark Weprin vacated the seat Friday to begin a new role with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Dosamantes, the youngest candidate for the seat thus far at 24 years old, grew up in Bellerose, and has lived in the district for most of her life. Because of this she believes she knows much of the problems the area faces.

“The reason why I’m running for this seat is because I grew up in this area. I love this community,” she said. “It gives me an opportunity to help grow and strengthen this community.”

Dosamantes is leaving her current role as deputy chief of staff for Assemblyman Philip Ramos. Before that she served as the executive assistant for Rep. Grace Meng and, prior to that, a communications and legislator director for David Weprin. She has also served as executive director of the Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group.

If elected, she intends to support senior services, transportation, job creation and increasing resources for schools. She hopes to be on the education committee as Dosamantes comes from a family with a background in education. Her mother, grandmother and aunt were all schoolteachers.

Dosamantes has already taken the lead on one key issue in the community, organizing a protest with residents against the recently announced juvenile jail in Queens Village.

She also wants to create a task force against domestic violence, and hopes to fight for another precinct in the area to share responsibilities with the 105th Precinct, which she believes is overburdened.

“An officer died in our area,” she said, referring to P.O. Brian Moore. “There is no reason why our district shouldn’t have the best policing services.”

In entering the race, Dosamantes faces a potentially crowded field that includes lawyer and activist Ali Najmi; former Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik; and Rebecca Lynch, a de Blasio administration staffer.

Dosamantes said she has a lot of support from people in the neighborhood and many volunteers. She also may have the support of the large Hindu population in the area. An example of Queens diversity, Dosamantes has an Indian mother and a Mexican father, as well as some other influences, and speaks four languages including English, Hindi, Bengali and Spanish.

Dosamantes recognizes that winning the seat will be an uphill battle as the youngest candidate, but she thinks she has a chance.

“I think it’s up for grabs,” Dosamantes said. “I am the underdog, but I also represent the people’s candidate because I come from the district.”

Mark Weprin has yet to endorse a candidate running for his seat. Reached by phone, he didn’t want to comment specifically about Dosamantes either.

“I will make an endorsement eventually,” Weprin said. “I have worked with her. But I’d rather not comment on any one candidate at this time.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to schedule a date for the special election, which by law must take place within 60 days.

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Plans for future Astoria ferry dock revealed


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre /Renderings and charts courtesy NYCEDC

City officials revealed renderings and information about the planned Astoria ferry dock in Hallets Cove at a meeting Thursday to hear residents’ concerns about the landing, which is expected to be complete in 2017.

The new dock will be located off the promenade across from the Astoria Houses complex and will consist of an approximately 3,000-square-foot floating pier with two slots for ferries. The floating pier will have an attached, sloped walkway that connects to the promenade.

Astoria’s ferry dock will be included as part of a new citywide ferry service that Mayor Bill de Blasio first introduced during his State of the City address earlier this year, and seeks to ease public transportation issues for current and future residents of the neighborhood. More than 600 people are expected to ride the Astoria ferry each day by 2025, according to stats from the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

“Ferry service is going to provide a reinvigoration of our waterfront, but more importantly a vital transportation option,” Councilman Costa Constantinides said at the meeting. “This is not to be a luxury; we are not here tonight to talk about pleasure boating.”

The proposed ferry dock is about a 20-minute walk from the nearest train station, the N and Q at Astoria Blvd., and often residents in the western Astoria area need to ride a bus to the train. Economic Development Corp. representatives said the ferry will cut commute times down for those that live in the most western part of the community and want to travel to Manhattan quickly.

To alleviate residents’ concerns about security, gates to the dock will be locked when ferry service is closed.


Parking, which some residents believe could become a possible issue, may not be drastically affected by the addition of the ferry, according to results of an Economic Development Corp. survey.

The data shows that 90 percent of people will walk, bike or take the bus to the ferry, while only about 30 people would park in the neighborhood to use the water vessel.

Not everyone was convinced. Some believe it may give an option for residents who live further east to use Astoria as a parking lot and take the ferry when going to Manhattan.

“If they’re interviewing ferry riders in Manhattan, yes, no one is driving to ferries in Manhattan, but it’s a little quieter around here,” said Astoria resident Jonathan Corbin. “There is parking available, although minimal. There is some concern that it’s going to be very disruptive for residents.”

Another possible issue brought up was the potential clash between ferries and kayaking in Hallets Cove.

Constantinides said they are looking very closely at this situation and want a lively waterfront with a variety of uses, although little information was given at the event about how kayaking would be affected by ferry routes as well as what protections might be put in place for kayakers.

“That river belongs to everybody,” said local kayaker Jean Cawley. “Kayaks are often called speed bumps by ferry operators. I don’t want there to be a Vision Zero in 20 years for the river.”

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City Council approves tax breaks for fully affordable Edgemere housing project


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects LLP

The City Council approved Wednesday a Housing Preservation and Development Department grant for a 40-year property tax exemption that will allow the construction of a fully affordable 101-unit planned project in Edgemere.

The project, called Beach Green North, will be located on vacant land at 45-05 Rockaway Beach Blvd., and will be 100 percent affordable thanks in part to the tax break. It is being co-developed by Bluestone Organization in conjunction with L+M Development Partners and Triangle Equities.

The planned seven-story building will have more than 93,000 square feet of living space and about 500 square feet for commercial space, according to filings with the Buildings Department. There will also be a total of 35 parking spaces in the building, which was designed by Curtis + Ginsberg Architects and GDSNY.

Half of the building’s units will be for families making 60 percent or less of the area median income, according to reports. Developers are hoping to break ground on the project in the summer.

Beach Green North will be built with the use of bioswales and pervious asphalt to maximize stormwater retention, which will help prevent sewer system overflows. The building will also make use of energy-saving features and amenities to enhance resiliency against big storms, such as Sandy, which devastated the Rockaways.

Councilman Donovan Richards was pleased with those features of the project in addition to its affordability.

Beach Green North

“This plot of land has been left desolate for decades, but it will now feature housing that offers greater comfort for occupants and an enhanced level of survivability in case another catastrophic storm hits the peninsula again in the future,” Richards said. “This is a great victory for a community of working-class New Yorkers and as further developments come to fruition, I will continue to fight to ensure that the Rockaways remain a place for working families to live, work and thrive.”

The project will be the first development on vacant Edgemere beachfront property.

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David Weprin won’t run for brother’s City Council seat


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photos

There won’t be another Weprin switcheroo at City Hall.

Assemblyman David Weprin ruled out a run last week for the City Council seat that his brother, Mark Weprin, will vacate soon in order to become Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs, according to a spokesperson for the assemblyman. David Weprin will instead seek re-election in 2016.

The Weprin brothers previously traded legislative seats. David Weprin occupied the 23rd City Council seat for eight years before making a failed run for city comptroller in 2009. Mark Weprin — then occupying the Assembly seat previously held by their late father, Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin — ran for and won his brother’s City Council seat.

After Mark Weprin stepped down from the Assembly to become city councilman, David Weprin won his brother’s and his father’s former Assembly seat in a 2010 special election.

Many observers believed David Weprin would jump at the chance of returning to City Hall after Mark Weprin announced his resignation from the City Council on May 11. According to the New York Observer, David Weprin told supporters on May 14 he would stay in Albany, noting that he was recently promoted to the Assembly’s leadership by current Speaker Carl Heastie.

“I’ve decided that I plan on running for re-election to the Assembly,” David Weprin was quoted in the Observer article. “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve accomplished so far in the Assembly. I think I have a lot more to do. I’ve developed a lot of seniority in a short time — a lot of people have left.”

Once Mark Weprin’s City Council resignation takes effect, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to call a special non-partisan election to be held within the following 60 days. Each candidate must obtain their own ballot line; political parties cannot nominate a candidate, but may make endorsements.

Former Assemblyman and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik already confirmed his interest in the race. Other potential candidates include Dominic Panakal, chief-of-staff to Councilman Rory Lancman; attorney Ali Najmi; and former City Council candidates Bob Friedrich and Steven Behar.

The 23rd Council seat covers all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

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Councilman Weprin to leave seat for Cuomo administration


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/file photo

Updated Tuesday, May 12, 12:35 p.m.

Councilman Mark Weprin gave his two weeks’ notice to the people of his district Monday, as he announced his departure from the City Council to take a job with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Weprin, 53, who has served in the 23rd Council District seat since 2010, is poised to become Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs. He didn’t set a specific date when he would leave office, but in a statement, Weprin indicated his resignation would take effect “within the next two weeks.”

Prior to his City Council election, Weprin served for 15 years in the state Assembly, holding the seat previously held by his late father, former Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin. Mark Weprin was elected to the City Council seat in 2009 to succeed his brother, David, who made an unsuccessful run for City Comptroller.

David Weprin then won a special election in 2010 for his brother’s and father’s former Assembly seat.

“It has been an honor to represent eastern Queens as an elected official for 21 years,” Mark Weprin said in a statement Monday morning. “It has been my privilege to serve the people and families of my neighborhood. I am proud to have helped the communities I have represented to continue to be wonderful places to live, work and raise a family.”

At the start of his second City Council term, Mark Weprin was elected in January 2014 as chair of the City Council’s Queens delegation. He was also named chair of the Zoning and Franchises Committee and serves on the Land Use, Education, Economic Development, Oversight and Investigations, and Technology committees.

As deputy secretary for legislative affairs, Mark Weprin will reportedly serve as a liaison between Cuomo and leaders of the Assembly and state Senate on various matters.

“I have known Governor Cuomo for most of my life, and he is a leader of incredible talent,” Weprin added. “I look forward to this next step in my public career.”

Once the councilman’s resignation takes effect, the mayor must call for a non-partisan special election to be held within 60 days. Each candidate must secure their own party line; the established political parties cannot nominate a candidate of their own, but they may make an endorsement.

The 23rd Council District includes all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

As for who may replace Weprin in the City Council, one contender has already emerged — former Assemblyman and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik. He confirmed his interest in running for the seat in a phone interview with The Courier on Tuesday.

Other potential contenders, as reported in the New York Observer, include Dominic Panakal, chief-of-staff to Councilman Rory Lancman; local attorney Ali Najmi; civic activist and former City Council candidate Bob Friedrich; and former City Council and Assembly candidate Steve Behar.

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New renderings for Hallets Point development revealed


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy Dattner Architects

Renderings and details for the first building of the Durst Organization’s Hallets Point development project in Astoria were revealed.

The structure will consist of two 20-story structures emerging from a podium, as reported by New York YIMBY. The Dattner Architects-designed buildings will feature views of the waterfront and a large-scale rooftop space for residents. The first structure has a 2017 opening date.

The overall 2.5-million-square-foot Hallets Point project includes 2,400 units with 483 affordable apartments in multiple residential buildings, with retail space, a supermarket, a school and a public waterfront promenade.

Durst purchased a controlling interest in the project from Lincoln Equities Group, the original developer, for more than $100 million last year. The company paid $15 million for the final parcel of land at 1-02 26th Ave. which it needed for the huge project, according to city records filed in February.

The Hallets Point project is one of two mega developments on the Astoria waterfront. The other, called Astoria Cove, was passed by the City Council last year. It includes more than 1,700 units, of which 27 percent will be affordable housing.

New Hallets Point renderings 1
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Fired trash hauler workers win back their Maspeth jobs


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Teamsters Joint Council No. 16

Two private sanitation workers fired last Friday for testifying before the City Council’s Sanitation Committee got their jobs back Monday morning thanks to community and labor pressure on the company that let them go.

City Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who is the Sanitation Committee chair, held a press conference this morning in front of Five Star Carting’s location on Thames Street in Brooklyn in support of Michael Bush and Carlton Darden, the fired workers.

The conference was to have taken place in front of Five Star’s location on 47th Street in west Maspeth, but was moved to Brooklyn after the company organized a counteractive rally among its own supporters.

During a City Council hearing held last Wednesday, Darden and Bush testified about the problems in their industry, from low wages for long hours to dangerous working conditions. Both were subsequently given their notice by Five Star for speaking out against the company.

Federal labor law protects workers from retaliation for speaking publicly about their working conditions.

“These workers never deserved to be fired for speaking out—it was both illegal and unacceptable—so I am glad they are back to work,” Reynoso said. “It really speaks to the fact that the commercial waste industry desperately needs to be reformed. I am proud to join with the brave sanitation workers and to stand up for good jobs, worker protections and the right to free speech.”

Representatives from local labor unions joined the lawmaker in supporting Bush and Darden.

“New Yorkers have learned two things this week: Five Star Carting does not respect its workers or their free speech rights, but also that when workers, community members and elected officials stand together, we win,” said Sean Campbell, president of Teamsters Local 813. “The campaign for justice for sanitation workers is not over. From Maspeth to City Hall, we will keep fighting for good wages, worker safety and a clean environment.”

Allan Henry, an organizer for the Teamsters, said that after speaking out against Five Star Carting and their working conditions, Bush and Darden were told to sign papers deeming them terminated before they could receive their paychecks.

“Now they both have their jobs back, but this is the type of working conditions and the type of retaliation these workers are dealing in this industry,” Henry said.

Anthony Tristani, president of Five Star Carting, claimed that Bush and Darden were never fired from the company.

“Neither one was ever terminated,” he said in a phone interview. “Michael Bush was scheduled to come in yesterday.”

Tristani said that after the rally, Bush came into the Maspeth location and asked to use a sick day to cover the shift that he missed, which he was granted. Darden is scheduled to work tonight.

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Controversial Bayside elementary school to start construction this summer


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy the Department of Education 

The School Construction Authority is collecting bids to find a company to construct a controversial four-story, 468-seat elementary school in Bayside on the former Keil Brothers Garden Center and Nursery site.

The school, P.S. 332, will cost between $46.2 to $48.6 million and should be open for students from pre-K through fifth grade in September 2017, according to a Department of Education representative. Although a specific time wasn’t given, construction on the nearly 80,500-square-foot facility is expected to start in the late summer, the spokesperson said.

Dozens of residents held a rally two years ago in front of the site at 210-07 48th Ave. to protest the new school. Homeowners nearby said it would impact parking and present dangerous traffic problems for students.

The City Council gave the green light for the project in November 2013 after a vote. Councilmen Mark Weprin and Peter Vallone Jr. were the only legislators who voted against it. However, state Sen. Tony Avella, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Community Board 11 also opposed the project.

Supporters of the plan said it would relieve congestion from the district’s schools, which, like schools in many other parts of the borough, are suffering from overcrowding.

That could be the reason why the size of the proposed school inflated over the years. Original plans were for a 456-student institution.

Construction companies have until May 22 to submit their bids.

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