Tag Archives: Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder

MTA Bus Time scheduled to come to Queens within weeks


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Queens commuters will soon be able to track when the next bus will arrive.

MTA Bus Time, which allows riders to follow real-time location of buses through any web-enabled smartphone or computer via GPS, should be coming to the borough within weeks, according to the agency.

“We have completed borough-wide installations in Queens and Brooklyn and are currently fine-tuning software. We are on schedule to go on line in the next several weeks,” MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz said.

MTA Bus Time users can also text an intersection or street address to 511123 to receive a message listing local bus routes or find out information by using a smartphone with a QR-code reader. The QR-code is printed on the Guide-A-Ride schedules posted at bus stops.

The technology started serving all of Staten Island’s bus routes in January 2012. It was later expanded to include all Bronx and Manhattan routes as well as Brooklyn’s B63 and B61 lines.

The MTA said in October 2013 that it would be expanding Bus Time to Queens and remaining routes within the next six months.

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder has been pushing for the MTA to implement the technology throughout Queens and to set a start date for its launch.

He sent a letter to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast last week asking him to immediately expand its use in the entire borough.

“Waiting for a bus in Queens should not be a guessing game,” Goldfeder said.

Goldfeder stressed the importance of Bus Time in Queens, saying it would improve local bus service and help ease congestion on roadways.

“[Bus Time] is the perfect solution to make public transportation more accessible and efficient to keep traffic moving,” Goldfeder said.

“I’m excited to see a successful program come to Queens residents,” he added.

 

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Transit committee finds new support for restarting Rockaway Beach Line


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Jeff Liao

One by one, members of the Queens Public Transit Committee (QPTC), an organization focused on improving transportation in the borough, thanked Community Board 5 (CB5) last week.

The board voted to support the idea of restarting the defunct Rockaway Beach Line last month, in part to help ease traffic congestion issues on major thoroughfares, such as Woodhaven Boulevard.

The news was significant for QPTC, because the 3.5-mile trail could also be transformed into a park.

“Getting more people like CB5 is tremendous because they realize overcrowding is becoming a major problem,” said Phil McManus, chair of the QPTC.

In November of last year, Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder, who has voiced support for a new train, announced that Queens College will be doing a study of both the train and park ideas.

The Friends of the QueensWay (FQW), a group made up of residents that live near the trail who are pushing to transform the former rail line into a public green space, has argued against restarting the line.

“After over five decades of abandonment and multiple studies concluding that rail reactivation is not feasible, the time has come to utilize the over 50 acres of land that make up the QueensWay,” according to a statement from FQW. “As evidence shows, rebuilding this abandoned land will dramatically improve the quality of life, create jobs and safer streets, and highlight the incredible history and cultural diversity of central and southern Queens.”

FQW also said that the new park will have a much needed bike path, which could be used for transportation.

Not everyone has taken a side though. Members of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) would like to see formal proposals, instead of making a decision on speculation.

“We want to make sure a lot of concerns are answered. Can’t say that we are for or against,” said Martin Colberg, president of the WRBA.

McManus said the QPTC isn’t opposed to doing both ideas in some capacity, but a FQW representative said that isn’t a possibility.

“I just don’t see that as being realistic,” said Travis Terry, a member of FQW Steering Committee. “I wouldn’t even like to consider that option until there is some proof.”

 

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Howard Beach’s Columbus Day Parade back and better than ever


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Last year, Sandy stopped the always-anticipated Howard Beach Columbus Day Parade. But this year, the event came back bigger and better.

“We were ecstatic,” said Frank Gulluscio, the area’s Democratic District Leader. “Besides celebrating the Italian culture, it was the fact that the community came back, the fact that we were out there in full force.”

Honorees Al Perna, Luigi Moccia, JoAnn Ariola, Peter Vallone, Jr. and Melinda Katz proudly donned their “Grand Marshal” sashes and waved to the crowd of hundreds as they made their way down Cross Bay Boulevard.

“The recovery has been duly noted that people are back,” Gulluscio said. “It’s an enormous day for the community and all the organizations that took part in it.”

The parade brought in dozens of participants from the Howard Beach and Rockaway neighborhoods as well as the rest of the borough. Marching bands from schools such as Beach Channel High School and

Christ the King played as they processed down the boulevard, as did bagpipe players from various city organizations.

“That’s what this parade has become. It’s not just our community, it’s about the entire area,” Gulluscio said. “It has become nurturing all of the other cultures that live within New York City.”

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Local girl scout troops joined the fun, as did the Hamilton Beach Fire Department, local ambulance corps, the Kiwanis Club of Howard Beach and various local businesses.

The energy as groups and floats made their way down Cross Bay from 157th Avenue was apparent. Local officials State Senator Joseph Addabbo, City Councilmember Eric Ulrich and Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder came out to join the celebration as well.

“The fact that we’ve endured the whole recovery process shows the strength of the community,” Gulluscio said. “Howard Beach is here.”

Wounded Warriors Adaptive Water Sports Festival will go on as planned


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

The show will go on.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder helped acquire the use of a new dock for the Wounded Warriors 10th annual Adaptive Water Sports Festival, so now the event can continue as planned.

Each year the water sports festival by the Wounded Warriors Project, an organization dedicated to empowered injured soldiers, provides the multi-day sports event in Breezy Point to treat veterans. But Sandy destroyed a necessary landing dock, which threatened to cancel parts or all of the festival.

“The neighborhood has been looking forward to this event to provide a much needed sense of normalcy,” said Flip Mullen of Wounded Warriors.

Goldfeder’s office got the ball rolling with the Wounded Warrior Project, Seastreak Ferry and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, to ensure veterans could use the new dock at Beach 108th Street so they can commute to and from the Rockaways.

“It has been eight months since Superstorm Sandy ravaged our community and we could not let the storm prevent us from continuing our traditions of celebrating our Wounded Warriors,” Goldfeder said.  “Our veterans fought to protect our country and we are proud to welcome them back to Rockaway.”

During the water sports festival injured veterans, many who have lost their limbs, will be able to water ski, kayak and learn to scuba dive.

The event will run from July 11 -13. The Wounded Warriors are scheduled to arrive at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 11 at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club.

 

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Op-Ed: Solidarity with Oklahoma


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER PHILLIP GOLDFEDER

When Sandy arrived seven months ago, my district, my community, and my family were severely impacted and our lives forever changed. Our neighborhoods, our businesses, and our homes were torn into pieces, flooded and burned down and our families left to rebuild their lives with uncertainty and despair.

We survived in southern Queens and Rockaway by helping each other and with great thanks to the kindness and generosity of our neighbors from across the country.

We have always been a strong community with a history of providing for others, but there are moments in time when the unimaginable takes place and we are forced to rely on others during our toughest challenges. Simply put, during Sandy we were not prepared.

I often look back at the days and weeks following the storm and wonder how we survived without a playbook, without a plan, and without the necessary resources. The answer is simple: we supported each other and were supported by those who have been through destruction and understood what we needed to survive.

When I heard that a natural disaster — this time a tornado — had ripped through the communities of Moore County in Oklahoma, I had a deep understanding of how they were feeling and on behalf of all of us who experienced Sandy, I needed to help. I needed to act.

Sandy survivors from across our community were inquiring about how to assist families that were struggling. I immediately reached out to my counterpart in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Paul Wesselhoft, whose district included the devastated areas of Moore County. After speaking with him, the decision was clear: I knew what I had to do for our community that strongly desired to return the favor that had been done for us just a short seven months ago. I booked the next flight to Oklahoma.

I had no plan, no agenda — only a desire to assist the thousands that were struggling to find hope. As I drove from the airport to the Capital, the only visible signs of a tornado were the many tents, hastily prepared and staffed with enthusiastic volunteers ready to receive supply donations. I stopped at each location to explain the circumstances that put me in their particular neighborhood and to say thank you for their help in the relief effort. Each encounter concluded with hugs, tears, and a rejuvenated spirit and belief that here was a light at the end of the tunnel.

I arrived in Oklahoma City and met with Wesselhoft and others including Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon to discuss the level of damage, ongoing relief efforts and what I could do to help.

Sadly, spending every waking hour in the affected communities following Sandy prepared me for what I was about to see. As I traveled through Moore, it was difficult to distinguish where the streets ended and homes began; their neighborhoods, their businesses and their homes were torn into pieces, blown away with their families left to rebuild their lives with uncertainty and despair.

The damage and devastation was eerily similar to what I witnessed in our own community post-Sandy, but I also saw the same strength, resolve, and resiliency of the families experiencing this tragedy.

On behalf of southern Queens and Rockaway, I traveled to Oklahoma to say thank you for being there for us, but more importantly, I sent a strong message that we would be there for them. I met with their leaders, thanked volunteers and worked alongside families picking through the debris with the hope of locating lost memories.

I want to thank everyone in our community that has found a way to help families in Oklahoma get back on their feet. Trucks of supplies were sent, money was donated, and volunteers from our community are now on the ground repaying the debt. As we continue our own recovery, please keep the struggling families in Oklahoma in your thoughts and prayers.

Goldfeder represents Assembly District 23

 

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OpEd: Public opposed to JFK runway expansion


| editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER PHILIP GOLDFEDER

As your assemblymember, it is my responsibility to ensure that the community’s concerns are heard. On no issue is that clearer than the Regional Plan Association’s suggested plan to the Port Authority to expand the runway at JFK International Airport into Jamaica Bay. Since the plan was first introduced in February 2011, I have listened to hundreds of residents tell me how this would destroy Jamaica Bay and hurt our community, and despite the steadfast public opposition, the idea remains on the table after over a year of deliberation.

The proposal originally devised by the Regional Plan Association calls for parts of the federally-protected Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to be filled-in to create a new runway at JFK Airport. The 400-acre parcel of wetlands and shoreline serves as one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the northeast and is home to over 60 species of reptiles and fish.

An environmental study stated that any further man-made incursion would “diminish a national environment asset for future generations.” For that reason, federal law specifically prohibited any airport expansion in the protected zone in the 1972 wildlife refuge, park and recreation area designation by the National Parks System.

Protecting this wildlife refuge is only one aspect that has worried the community. Both the residents of my community and Jamaica Bay would be greatly impacted by the runway expansion as proposed by the RPA. The project would literally be built in the backyards of communities that rely heavily on the serene atmosphere that the neighborhood currently offers. Property values would undoubtedly be diminished and the potential negative impact to the local area and economy greatly outweighs any benefit a new runway would generate.

In 2009, US Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger gave us a true story of American heroism when he made an emergency landing into the Hudson River after a rare bird strike caused an engine on his jet to fail. Unfortunately, I have seen reports from aviation consultants that show disrupting the Jamaica Bay wildlife area could raise the risk of further bird strikes at JFK Airport. I urge more research into how expansion would change the bird sanctuary, so that we can be sure it does not put lives in danger.

Air traffic has greatly increased in recent years. I understand the need for airport expansion, but I stand with the residents of Queens – this proposal simply has too many negative implications. There are a number of different, viable solutions at one of the four other airports in the metropolitan area managed by the Port Authority that could accomplish the same goal with less impact on our families and the environment.

I recently sent a letter to Port Authority executives detailing my apprehensions with the proposed runway expansion at JFK and they have publicly stated they will take my concerns into consideration. Jamaica Bay is a tremendous natural resource that deserves protection. This is a good first step and I hope the Port Authority is finally convinced to drop this plan.

If you would like more information on the proposal to expand the runway, or to discuss this or any other important community issue, don’t hesitate to contact my office at 718-945-9550 or email me at goldfederp@assembly.state.ny.us.

 

Sun News Briefs


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Pol: Save Jamaica Bay from runway expansion

SOUTHERN QUEENS —

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder recently sent a letter to Port Authority executives, urging them to reject proposals to expand the runway at JFK International Airport into Jamaica Bay.

Port Authority executives introduced a plan back in February 2011 which included filling in a significant part of Jamaica Bay.

“This plan has the potential to affect local neighborhoods and a wildlife refuge,” Goldfeder said. “Air traffic has greatly increased in recent years, and I understand the need for expansion, but this proposal has too many negative implications.”

Goldfeder said runway expansion into the bay has both environmental and economic risks. The area, he said, serves as one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the northeast and is home to more than 60 species of butterflies and an array of reptiles and fish. In addition, many local businesses rely on the bay, he said, and residents who enjoy the park would see the space reduced.

“The public has really made their opinion quite clear on the issue. They do not want any part of Jamaica Bay destroyed,” Goldfeder said.

Instead, the assemblymember urged the agency to explore different, potential solutions that he said would “accomplish the same goal with less impact on our local families and environment.”

According to Goldfeder, the 400-acre parcel of wetlands and shoreline in question was designated as a wildlife refuge, park and recreation area in 1972 by the National Parks System. Congressional approval would be necessary to fill it in, as federal law specifically prohibits any airport expansion in the protected zone, he said. An environmental study of the area stated that any further man-made incursion would “diminish a national environment asset for future generations,” said Goldfeder.

“Jamaica Bay is an incredible natural resource that deserves our protection,” he said.

 

Night of comedy at Church Hall

OZONE PARK —

The Nativity BVM and St. Stan’s Parish will present a “Night of Comedy” on Saturday, March 24 at 8 p.m. The show will take place at Nativity Church Hall, located at 101-41 91st Street, and doors will open at 7:30 p.m. There will be hot dogs, snacks and an available bar. Tickets go for $20 per person. Show officials said some material may not be suitable for minors. For more information, call Steve Jasiak at 718-551-2333.

 

Gas price gouging tactics thwarted

STATEWIDE —

The assembly has recently passed a bill that would allow victims of gas price gouging to sue violators. According to Assemblymember Mike Miller, the rising costs of oil have led to serious competition between gas distributors, causing many stations to charge outrageous amounts for a gallon of gasoline.

Miller said price gouging occurs when gas merchants continuously raise their prices over the course of a 24-hour period, dramatically increasing consumer costs without the actual price of gas going up. The “predatory practice,” he said, “allows a deceitful gas distributor to make unreasonable profits at a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet.”

“As gas prices constantly fluctuate, we must make sure Queens’ families don’t fall victim to price gouging at the pumps,” said Miller. “This legislation would ban gas stations from adjusting their prices multiple times daily.”

As of March 13, the average price of gas in New York is $3.98 a gallon — 22 cents higher than the national average, said Miller, adding that in many places around the state, gas prices have exceeded $4 per gallon.

However, before the law passed, only the state’s attorney general had the power to fine or prosecute violators. Now, consumers may seek justice and compensation from dishonest merchants, Miller said.

 

Bill encourages open government

STATEWIDE —

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder announced a new package of bills recently passed by the assembly that encourages transparency in government.

“This package of bills allows New Yorkers to have greater access to state government by increasing openness and accountability,” Goldfeder said.

Among the changes, the legislation bars government agencies from inappropriately using the copyright law to deny access to a public record and limits the time in which state agencies would have to appeal court decisions that order the release of documents, the assemblymember said.

“We need to restore the public’s trust in government. Southern Queens and Rockaway families deserve an open government that works for them,” Goldfeder said.

$7M to restore Jamaica Bay marshes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo by Dan Mundy, Jr.

A $7 million grant will see more “green” in the Jamaica Bay marshes.

The grant — provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, totaling $7,293,547.50 — will fund the restoration of approximately 50 acres of salt marshes at Yellow Bar Hassock, Senator Charles Schumer and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder announced recently.

“From Broad Channel to Howard Beach to the Rockaways, all communities along Jamaica Bay have a stake in preserving the bay’s at-risk marsh islands,” Schumer said. “The restoration of Yellow Bar Hassock Island is a critical phase of our battle to preserve the marshes from disappearing and forever altering the bay for the worse. With this funding, we can make sure that Jamaica Bay’s fragile marshes will survive for generations to come.”

Officials said the bay’s fragile ecosystem suffered damage from development and sewer discharges. The restoration will involve the placement of 300,000 cubic yards of the island’s “dredged” material and will, according to Goldfeder, “preserve the threatened natural habitat and beauty of Jamaica Bay.”

Goldfeder said he hopes the completion of the project will not only benefit the bay but also the surrounding community by attracting new economic activity and growth.

“This grant will help restore the delicate ecosystem of Jamaica Bay to its former greatness,” Goldfeder said. “It’s important to not only preserve our natural surroundings, but renew them whenever possible.”

In 2006, three marsh islands in the bay — including Yellow Bar Hassock — were recommended and approved for restoration by city and state agencies. Since then, the bay’s Elders Point East and Elders Point West have been completed.

Officials will begin pumping sand into Yellow Bar Hassock during the first week in February, while planting is scheduled to take place starting March 15. Officials expect completion near July 2012.

Meanwhile, motorists traveling along the Rockaway Inlet of Jamaica Bay can expect multiple daily bridge lifts starting January 26 and continuing through February.

The Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge will see “around-the-clock, full periodic closures,” according to the MTA, due to federal code that requires lift bridges to be raised in order to allow for crossing marine traffic.

MTA officials advise motorists to use the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge as an alternate route.

Cross Bay toll could be no more


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

Rockaway residents may soon find their burdens lighter — at least while trekking across the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal, a discount program could see Rockaway and Broad Channel residents reimbursed for their travels.

Rockaway motorists with an E-Z Pass currently pay $1.19 each time they drive along the Cross Bay Bridge for up to two trips a day. While additional crossings are free afterward, local elected officials and residents have long deemed the toll a problem.

The toll was free for residents of Broad Channel and the Rockaways for 12 years, but was reinstated by the MTA in 2010.

Now that fares could be relinquished once again for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents, local elected officials — who have championed against the toll for many years — revel in a victory won while they look ahead to ending the toll boroughwide.

“We have been advocating relentlessly to end the toll on the Cross Bay Bridge,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, who has been a staunch advocate for a complete toll elimination. “From the many civic and community leaders who rallied, to the thousands of community members who signed our petition, we are one step closer to successfully eliminating this toll completely and lifting a significant financial burden off the shoulders of many hardworking families and businesses in Rockaway and Broad Channel.”

The assemblymember added that the toll negatively affects an already sluggish local economy and places an inherently excessive financial burden on the residents and small businesses of southern Queens and Rockaway.

According to Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14, the proposal could stimulate more activity and revenue between Rockaway and Broad Channel businesses.

“It certainly will be positive. Broad Channel residents will more likely come in to Rockaway now,” Gaska said, adding that residents could save between $800 and $1,500 a year if the program passes.

But Gaska said businesses on the peninsula are not likely to see a “big boom.”

“Residents outside still have to pay,” he said. “The toll stifles economic growth within our community. It keeps tourists from coming into Rockaway, and all local businesses still have to pay for their trucks and vehicles going in and out of Rockaway. It’s been a significant problem for us.”

Still, Democratic Assembly District Leader Lew Simon said the discount is a giant step in the right direction.

“I was very much ecstatic. I was one of the happiest men on Earth when I heard,” said Simon, who for many years has rallied much opposition against the toll. “We’ve been fighting like hell to get rid of this toll to make sure the residents don’t pay it. I’m very excited with the governor’s decision, but I feel like all Queens residents should not be paying this unfair toll.”

The discount program is expected to go into immediate effect once the budget is signed nearing the end of March.

Talent on parade at Howard Beach Senior Center


| dbeltran@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by David Beltran

It was an afternoon full of laughs and smiles at The Howard Beach Senior Center as they held their first of two talent shows this year.

Over 200 people, including Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, attended the show, which featured a variety of acts, from singing to belly dancing to stand-up comedy.

Mark Frey, the executive director of the senior center, said it’s just one of many events that they hold throughout the year.

“We’re very active here,” he said. “Seniors over here play cards, belly dance, do Tai Chi and some even play Wii bowling.

The show began with much of the audience singing along with Jimmy Di Napoli as he sang the “Howard Beach Song,” a song about life in Howard Beach. 

The Tai Chi class led by Elaine Fleischman, who teaches Tai Chi for People with Arthritis – sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation, performed a sequence of movements which were followed by the audience. According to Fleischman, some of the Tai Chi performers have been in the class for over three years.

The act that garnered a rousing ovation was the belly dancing performance of Anita Lombardo. Once her dance ended, many of the people in the audience cheered for more. One senior yelled, “Bring it on,” while another said he was going to definitely sign up for the belly dancing class.

Ninety-eight-year-old Max Stern, the center’s oldest senior, lit up the room as he told jokes and played songs on a ukulele. Even Frey took part in the show as he sang his rendition of the Beatles hit, “Let It Be.”

“It was excellent,” said Theresa Brodsky, who was at the senior center for the first time.

“The show was beautiful and all the performers were very good,” said Libby Schmier.

Railway favored over greenway?


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

A plan for a greener Queens has met some opposition.

The Institute for Rational Mobility, a non-profit group of transit advocates, disapproves of the construction of a greenway along three miles of abandoned railway stretching from Rego Park to Ozone Park. They feel the train tracks, which have remained idle for 50 years, would better serve the community if revived for their original purpose – extended transportation throughout the borough.

George Haikalis, president of the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility, feels the reactivation of the railway does not necessarily mean hindering the creation of a park, suggesting that the two projects can exist simultaneously. Haikalis, who considers himself “a long-time supporter of parks and open space,” compares his vision of a tandem greenway and railway to the layout of the Manhattan Bridge.

“[Officials in charge of designing the project] just have to be thoughtful and creative,” said Haikalis. “It’s not trying to pit one against the other.”

Haikalis alleges the venture requires less work, as several structures are already in place, estimating the undertaking will cost about $500 million. If revived, the railway will run from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy Airport.

Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder said he vehemently opposes turning the railway into a park, alleging that the revival of a train to south Queens will benefit a community he calls “severely underserved.” Goldfeder also argued the necessity of an extended transit system if the proposed plan to build a convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack falls into place.

While both Goldfeder and Haikalis are in favor of preserving green space, they feel the railway will best serve the area if restored.

Addabbo and Goldfeder tour Aqueduct Racino


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Senator Joseph Addabbo

After touring Resorts World New York City on October 3, Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder (left) and Senator Joseph Addabbo (right) learned the Racino — set to open on October 28 — was up to speed with construction. They also previewed other amenities separate from the casino, including an indoor parking lot and family-friendly restaurants.