Tag Archives: Assemblymember Catherine Nolan

Parents, pols oppose temporary relocation plan for P.S. 11 students


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A group of Woodside parents is sending the Department of Education (DOE) back to the drawing board.

Congressmember Joseph Crowley gathered with other local elected officials and parents of students from P.S. 11, located at 54-25 Skillman Ave., to voice their disagreement with the DOE’s final recommendation of sending the school’s kindergarten and first grade students to P.S. 171 in Astoria.

The temporary relocation of the students, expected to begin for the 2014-15 school year, comes as the School Construction Authority (SCA) plans to build a brand new mini-building addition to P.S. 11 with a capacity of 856 seats.

“I commend the DOE and the SCA for allocating millions of dollars towards this expansion,” Crowley said. “At the same time, though, we must ensure that our children, especially our youngest elementary students, are not displaced to a school outside of the confines of their own neighborhood.”

Last month, the elected officials sent a letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña urging her to reconsider the proposed plan.

According to the DOE’s proposal, the incoming kindergarten class and some first grade students would be transported by bus to P.S. 171, close to three miles away from their zoned school. Then for the 2015-16 school year the children would be relocated to a new elementary school located at 39-07 57th Street. For the third year, the students would then return to P.S. 11.

Woodside parent Julianne O’Riordan currently has a daughter in second grade and a son in kindergarten at P.S. 11, and her youngest son is expected to start kindergarten at the school next year.

“For the first three years of school he’s going to be moved around Queens like a piece on a chess board,” said O’Riordan, about her youngest son, Enda. “We love P.S. 11, its principal, teachers and staff. That is why we are upset that our younger children may not get to have the same wonderful experience that our daughter has enjoyed.”


Enda,4, and his 5-year-old brother Luke will have to go to P.S. 171 next year. (Photo Courtesy of Julianne O’Riordan)

Although the group of parents and elected officials are thrilled to be getting an expansion for the crowded school, they are calling on the DOE to look at different options that would keep the children in the community.

“Taking these kids and moving them miles away to school is going to damage their education and slow them down in their progress and it’s something we impose upon the [DOE] to fix, and fix before it becomes a problem,” State Senator Michael Gianaris said.

Throughout the process of deciding the best course of action during the estimated three year construction, consideration was given to every possible option, according to the DOE.

“Our aim is to deliver a state-of-the-art addition to the building, and as part of our newly announced engagement protocol, we will be scheduling a meeting with the entire school community,” said DOE spokesperson Harry Hartfield.

 

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Pols call for redesign of Queensboro Bridge exit ramp after deadly accident


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Senator Michael Gianaris' Office

After an off-duty NYPD officer was killed when her car smashed into an exit ramp off the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, local elected officials are calling for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to put an end to deadly accidents.

Elisa Toro, 36, a 10-year NYPD veteran who was assigned to Manhattan’s 17th Precinct, was heading off the bridge’s exit ramp around 1:50 a.m. on Tuesday when she struck a guardrail, then a cement barrier, said police. The car then flipped onto its passenger side, hitting a vacant storefront on Queens Plaza South at Crescent Street.

Toro, a Bronx resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured in the accident, said police. The investigation is ongoing.

Following a series of accidents at the same site in 2011, State Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan sent a letter to the DOT demanding the agency redesign the ramp and continue to improve temporary safety measures. These procedures would include higher barriers and other measures that could help lessen the danger for pedestrians and storefront, until the exit ramp is redesigned.

“No one else should have to die before the city realizes that this exit ramp is fundamentally unsafe,” said Gianaris. “We stood here two years ago asking for a complete redesign of the off ramp, and instead we got new signs and a couple barriers. The time for half measures is gone. We need a safer exit ramp before another tragedy occurs.”

Gianaris asked the DOT to improve traffic safety in the area and redesign the bridge’s exit ramp, after a series of accidents in 2011. But a redesign of the exit ramp was “ignored” and only “additional signage and minimal barriers” were added, according to Gianaris. The barrier, which was destroyed in a 2011 crash, was never replaced, he said, and could have protected the storefront in Tuesday’s accident.

“The east bound off ramp of the Queensboro Bridge is clearly a death trap,” said Van Bramer. “Cars are still flying off this bridge, into store fronts, and putting the lives of pedestrians and motorists in jeopardy. It is clear that the Department of Transportation has not done enough.”

 

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Long Island City strip club denied liquor license


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

            Instead of “take it off,” Long Island City is shouting, “shut it down!”

            After rallying in front of a local strip club to block its opening, L.I.C. residents and officals got their wish as the club, Gypsy rose, was denied a liquor license by the State Liquor Authority on January 18.

            Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who led a rally against the club, said that the SLA’s decision is a victory for families.

            “L.I.C. is a great place to live, work and raise a family and we will never stop fighting to keep it growing and to keep it great,” said the councilmember. “I congratulate all those who rallied, wrote letters and spoke before the SLA and I commend the SLA for its appropriate decision, which it took today.”

            Opposition to the pole dancing haven reached its pinnacle at that rally, with Van Bramer leading the charge along with Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, Senator Michael Gianaris, Community Board 2 Chair Joe Conley, as well as civic and religious leaders.

            “This is the wrong type of business in the wrong neighborhood,” said local resident Grant at the initial rally on January 12. “Long Island City is different now and we really don’t want a place like this next door.”

            “Gypsy Rose threatened our community when we rallied against it last year, telling us they would put in a club that featured full nudity as opposed to what they originally proposed,” said Van Bramer among the crowd of over 50 community leaders and officials.

            Representatives from Gypsy Rose’s parent company, 21 Group Inc., have met with community board officials numerous times over the past year, and have said that they will strengthen security with more guards and cameras. They also said that their establishment would be classier than what residents expect, and that it would convey an “elegant and artful” atmosphere.

            At a public hearing last June, 21 Group Inc.’s attorney called Gypsy Rose “unobtrusive” and an “improvement” to the area. He also said the renovations would give residents a stylish building.

            But the majority of residents and officials stood staunchly opposed to the strip club, no matter what the building might look like.

            “The community is against it, and businesses are against it, that is why I’m standing here to ensure that all our voices are heard,” said Van Bramer at the rally. “Not here, not now!”