Tag Archives: Briarwood Action Network

Star of Queens: Aida Vernon, president, Briarwood Action Network


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

aida vernon

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Aida Vernon is the president of Briarwood Action Network, a civic association that addresses problems in the Briarwood community.

BACKGROUND:  Vernon was actually born in Brooklyn and grew up in Rego Park. She has been living in Briarwood since 1996. By day, Vernon is a lawyer, by night she is president of the Briarwood Action Network.

She started the Briarwood Action Network in the summer of 2011.  She wanted to create a forum for her neighbors to voice their community concerns. She formed this group out of the impulse to engage with neighbors.

“I, along with the collaboration of the members of the board, am very passionate to get people involved and helping the community,” said Vernon.

GOALS: According to Vernon, the Briarwood Action Network does not have one single focus.

“Along with the help of the NYC Department of Parks and the event “It’s My Park Day,” we were able to get our community involved in the beautification of [Hoover Park],” said Vernon.

In addition to holding informational meetings for the neighborhood to voice its concerns, the group has also conducted holiday food and toy drives, collecting 1,600 food items this holiday season. In the coming year, Vernon hopes to continue with the projects they have been working on.

BEST MEMORY:  Out of everything the Briarwood Action Network has accomplished Vernon said her favorite memory has to be the It’s My Park Day, which they have been holding every spring and fall.

“Everyone gets involved, from younger kids to senior citizens, they all come to plant flowers, listen to the live jazz music, and the event has proven to be a great way to get people involved.”

The Briarwood Action Network also received an award for its outstanding participation in  It’s My Park Day.

INSPIRATION: Vernon credits her fellow board members as her inspiration.  “They are all so passionate about what we do, and I could not have done it without them,” said Vernon.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE:  According to Vernon, their biggest challenge is getting more people actively involved. “Our key goal is to inspire others to do with us,” she said.

KATELYN DISALVO

 

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DOT addressing construction concerns in Briarwood


| mchan@queenscourier.com

SAMSUNG

Commuters in Briarwood say poor planning by the state has left them hanging two years after ongoing construction at a major subway station first started marring the community.

Civic leaders in the area called for better communication from the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT), during an August 25 rally at the Briarwood-Van Wyck subway station on Queens Boulevard — an area they say is plagued by poor lighting and dangerous, confusing traffic rerouting.

“The whole traffic flow changed and people ended up driving on the wrong side of the road. It was just genuinely a mess,” said Beth Brooks, spokesperson for the Briarwood Action Network (BAN). “People are frustrated because it’s not like any of this is new. The state DOT really dropped the ball.”

The Briarwood component of the state’s Kew Gardens Interchange project, as the Courier reported last September, involves replacing the Queens Boulevard bridge over the Van Wyck Expressway, adding an auxiliary lane to the expressway and an elevator and new entrance to the subway station, which will not be open to the public for at least another year, said Adam Levine, spokesperson for the state’s DOT.

Construction along the south side of Queens Boulevard caused the station’s main entrance to close two weeks ago, Levine said, and vehicular traffic was then shifted to the north side of the boulevard, where the agency built a new pathway along the edge of the construction zone leading to a ramp into a newly built, but temporary, subway entrance.

Levine said the DOT installed a new, temporary traffic signal on Queens Boulevard, additional street lights and workers to guide pedestrians past the work zone during works hours.

But BAN leaders — who have observed several cars and a bus traveling on the wrong side of the road — say the changes put both pedestrians and motorists in dangers. The project, Brooks said, has also caused a noticeable buildup of litter after construction knocked out several city garbage cans along the route from the subway station to Main Street.

“The community was blindsided. We felt like we had been left out of the process that we thought we were included in,” Brooks said.

Levine said the DOT is “taking action” to address all the concerns and implement changes. Agency officials, he said, met with Briarwood leaders three days after the rally. Brooks said the DOT plans on scheduling a public meeting to discuss practical solutions and appointing a community liaison to the project.

“We got what we wanted,” Brooks said, “immediate attention.”