Tag Archives: Congressman Joseph Crowley

New legislation to protect Astoria school from ‘disruptive’ subway noise


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Members of one Astoria school, located about 50 feet away from a subway platform, are hoping a new proposed bill will help bring “peaceful learning.”

The community at P.S. 85 is met daily with noise problems caused by the N and Q elevated subway line, which shakes windows and disrupts lessons, according to parents and teachers. 

Looking to bring a stop to the noise pollution, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley announced on Monday the Peaceful Learning Act of 2014, new legislation that would require the formation of a program to lessen railway noise levels that “negatively impact” public schools in the city. 

“As another school year begins, it is unconscionable that so many children whose schools are located near elevated trains are forced to learn under these adverse conditions,” said Crowley. “If we are serious about helping our children reach their full potential, providing an adequate and peaceful learning environment is priority number one.” 

During the morning announcement, speakers were interrupted by trains passing by in front of the school. Teachers, parents and elected officials held up two fingers, a gesture used daily to pause school lectures every time a train passes.

During rush hour trains pass by every two minutes and during normal hours, every five minutes, according to officials.

The proposed federal bill will direct the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on the impact of the subway noise on schools, determine acceptable ideas and evaluate the usefulness of noise reduction programs, according to the congressman.

Then schools that would be considered subject to unacceptable noise levels will be qualified to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, together with local matching funds, to build barriers or acoustical shielding to soundproof the sites.

Last December, the P.S. 85 community and elected officials rallied to call on the MTA and Department of Education to help alleviate the noise problems.

“This cannot go on any longer. This school has been here for over a hundred years, trains came after, and the school has adjusted,” said Evie Hantzopoulos, vice president of the parent association at P.S. 85. “Our kids go with it, our teachers go with it. And we all know we shouldn’t get used to things that are bad for you.”

Rebecca Bratspies, who is director of the City University of New York School of Law Center for Urban Environmental Reform and also the parent of a third grader at P.S. 85, said last fall she and another parent, Eric Black, recorded a video from inside the classroom to show the level of noise students face. 

While they recorded, the parents measured the noise level in the classroom to be 90 decibels, almost double the normal standard. 

“[The children] come here every day trying hard to learn. They do their best,” said Bratspies. “Now we have to do our best.”

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Local congress members endorse John Liu in state Senate race


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo


In his bid to unseat state Sen. Tony Avella, former City Comptroller John Liu picked up another round of support from local congressional members.

Liu received endorsements on Monday from congress members Grace Meng, Gregory Meeks and Joseph Crowley, who cited his achievements as a councilman and the financial leader of the city.

“John has proven himself to be an outstanding public servant and I’m happy to support his candidacy for the New York State Senate,” Meng said. “His experience as our comptroller and as a Queens councilman make him well prepared to tackle the important issues in Albany, and I look forward to working with him to make our city, state and borough an even better place to live.”

The congress members add to a list of Liu supporters in the District 11 race, which already include Borough President Melinda Katz, numerous unions and city lawmakers.

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his support of Avella. The incumbent also received an endorsement from the Communications Workers of America, District 1.

 

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Woodside street renamed after former Councilman Walter McCaffrey


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Woodside came together Saturday to honor a man who officials call the “great son” of the western Queens neighborhood.

Local politicians, community leaders and residents celebrated the life of former Councilman Walter McCaffrey during a ceremony in which 61st Street on Woodside Avenue was renamed “Walter McCaffrey Place.”

“The late Walter McCaffrey will never be forgotten,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who introduced legislation into the City Council to rename the Woodside street, where McCaffrey once had his district office. “A Woodsider till the end, Walter never stopped advocating for his neighborhood and this district, setting a high bar for all elected officials who followed him in office.”

McCaffrey, who passed away last July at 64 years old, was born and raised in Woodside, and served as councilman of the 26th District from 1985 to 2001. Before being elected to the Council, McCaffrey served as chair of Community Board (CB) 2.

“Here we are to honor the life and legacy of [Walter], the person who did so much for our city, so much for our community,” said Joseph Conley, chair of CB 2, during the renaming dedication. “And as Walter taught me and many people here today, there was no greater exercise in life than to reach out your hand and help somebody.

While in the City Council McCaffrey also served as chair of the Zoning and Franchises subcommittee, and was on the Land Use, Finance, Public Safety and Transportation committee.

Friends, colleagues and others who were at the street renaming ceremony remembered the late councilman for his sense of humor and devotion to serving the residents of western Queens.

“The dedication of Walter McCaffrey Place is a fitting tribute to a selfless public servant who was synonymous with the Woodside community,” Congressman Joseph Crowley said. “Walter fought for the people of Queens with great passion, leaving behind a legacy of advocacy and accomplishment that improved the lives of middle class families across the city.”

 

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DOE votes to bus more than 250 Woodside students to Astoria school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A group of Woodside parents have lost the fight to keep their children close to home.

The Department of Education (DOE) voted on Wednesday night to temporary relocate more than 250 students from P.S.11 in Woodside to P.S. 171 in Astoria for the next three years.

The 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 have maintained that the expansion of P.S. 11 is a necessary investment in our children’s education and is vitally important to alleviating our overcrowded schools,” Congressman Joseph Crowley said. “However, I am disappointed and troubled by the DOE’s lack of foresight to avoid this terrible situation.”

Crowley added, “The DOE’s poor planning and judgment will now place a significant burden on 250 of our youngest students and their families. Our children only get one real opportunity at a great education and it is unfortunate our city cannot do right by them.”

Seven members of the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) voted in favor of the proposal, while two were against and one abstained from voting.

Since December, parents and elected officials fought to keep the students closer to their Woodside homes and last month asked the DOE to consider renting space in the nearby former St. Teresa School building.

But P.S.11 parents say the DOE told them the former Catholic school would not be practical for the students due to lack of adequate resources at the site.

“Where there is a will there should be a way,” said Martin Connolly, whose youngest son is expected to start kindergarten at the school next year and faces being bused to Astoria. “We are just disappointed. At the moment we are just accepting the situation.”

“We are now looking very seriously at our son’s future,” the father of three said.

Connolly also has two other children currently at P.S. 11, a daughter in second grade and son in kindergarten.

“After extensive outreach to the community, we decided to move forward on delivering a state-of-the-art addition to P.S. 11 that will enrich student’s academic experience and reduce overcrowding,” DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield said.

 

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