Tag Archives: Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer

Sunnyside street co-named after beloved resident who put neighborhood ‘on the map’


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Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office

Sunnyside came together this weekend to honor the life of a man who many say helped make the neighborhood what it is today.

Local elected officials, community leaders and residents gathered on Saturday to celebrate the life of Luke Adams – a community activist and business owner who passed away last November at age 76 – by co-naming 46th Street in his honor.

The street was chosen because it is where Adams owned a small business and also where he advocated for the Sunnyside Arch to be built.

“It is important that we never forget the life of Luke Adams,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “His work helped put Sunnyside on the map and has left a lasting impression that will forever be felt in our community. Luke loved Sunnyside and was a neighborhood treasure for decades. By ceremoniously co-naming 46th Street in his honor we help ensure future generations of Sunnysiders remember his legacy and all the great work he did for the neighborhood.”

Adams, who was involved in community work for over 40 years, was the first to receive the Sunnysider of the Year award, which was later named after him.

Photo by Steven Harris

Along with working as a reporter and photographer for the Woodside Herald for many years, Adams was also instrumental in the Sunnyside Woodside Lions Club and the nonprofit group Sunnyside Artists Inc., and was the former president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.

“Luke Adams was an outstanding Sunnyside icon who dedicated his life to making his neighborhood a better place, and he is deeply missed,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “Luke helped to mold Sunnyside into the vibrant, wonderful community it is today. He was a good and honest man who will always hold a special place in Sunnyside.”

Among his work for the community, Adams was behind creating the first Sunnyside website in 1991 and has been referred to as the “best promoter in Queens,” because of his various campaigns to increase tourism to the borough he called home.

“The beautiful and diverse fabric of Sunnyside has been woven by a number of wonderful, talented, and committed individuals over the years,” said Pat O’Brien, chair of Community Board 2. “Our friend, Luke Adams, may stand tallest among them, and has left an example in his vision for its growth and success that we will all aspire to continue, and advance, for generations to come.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer joined others in the Sunnyside community to remember and honor the life of Luke Adams.

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First Queens Citi Bike station debuts in LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A longtime dream for Long Island City residents finally came true as Citi Bike made its grand entrance into the neighborhood and Queens for the first time.

Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, the Department of Transportation and local elected officials and leaders gathered Wednesday afternoon to cut the ribbon on the borough’s first-ever Citi Bike station located on Center Boulevard right on the waterfront.

This station, which is the first of 12 in Long Island City, is part of the Citi Bike expansion announced last October which is expected to double the size of the bike share network from 6,000 to 12,000 bikes throughout the city over the next two years.

“New Yorkers love Citi Bike. It has transformed the way we get around. It’s providing an alternative that doesn’t just move, but it moves and it changes at the pace of our city,” said Jay Walder, president and CEO of Motivate. “But now we will see the real potential of Citi Bike as it moves out to more communities and more New Yorkers can experience the freedom of bike share from Long Island City and Astoria, to Bed Stuy and Gowanus, Red Hook, Harlem and many other places.”

There will be 91 new stations installed by the end of the summer during the first phase of the expansion, which also includes stations in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.

Stations in Long Island City, which will be installed in the next couple of weeks, will be found in locations such as by the Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av subway station, in front of MoMa PS1, next to the LIC Flea & Food and by Queensboro Plaza. There will also be a station by the Queensbridge Houses.

“We never ever stopped believing that this could happen because it’s good for Queens and if it’s good for Queens its good for New York City,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “This is a tremendous victory [not only] for Long Island City but for all of Queens. It is one that we never ever gave up on. This is a dream come true. This moment is a dream come true.”

Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase, which debuted in 2013, but was pushed back after equipment damage from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.

Once all stations are installed by the end of the summer, the DOT and Motivate will begin the community outreach and planning process for the next phase of expansion, which includes stations in Astoria.

“The inclusion of Long Island City was a long time coming but I am glad it has finally arrived. Bike share will allow people to enjoy our neighborhood in a healthy, fun way and facilitate easier travel around western Queens, an area in dire need of better mass transit,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “I am thrilled to see western Queens given the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of Citi Bike and look forward to its further expansion into more of our neighborhoods.”

Along with the expansion, Motivate has replaced the software that powers Citi Bike, replaced software and hardware at all exiting stations and docking points, and added 1,000 new and upgraded bikes to its fleet. An additional 1,400 bikes will be added this summer to stock up the new stations.

The bikes, which were developed in partnership with Olympic bike designer Ben Serotta, have new features, including higher-quality parts and upgraded seats.

To celebrate the program’s expansion, Citi Bike is offering a $25 discount, up until Aug. 31, to new members. For more information visit www.citibikenyc.com/expansion.

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Woodside, LIC community asks car dealerships on Northern Blvd. to be ‘good neighbors’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Members of the Woodside and Long Island City communities are calling on local car dealerships — which can be found on both sides of Northern Boulevard — to be good neighbors and help keep the streets safe.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with residents and local leaders on Tuesday morning to voice their outrage and concern with car dealerships and auto body shops on Northern Boulevard parking their cars illegally on sidewalks, blocking the path for pedestrians.

“We call for increase in enforcement of the auto dealerships along Northern Boulevard but also increased neighborliness on the part of these auto dealerships,” Van Bramer said. “In addition to [Northern Boulevard] being an incredibly busy roadway, it is also the neighborhood for tens of thousands of people who are going to school, going to parks, going to church, going to work and they need the sidewalks free and clear of any obstructions.”

Van Bramer added that on Monday he met with the commanding officers of the 108th and 114th precincts, which share coverage of Northern Boulevard, to discuss increasing enforcement. Both precincts had previously given out tickets to cars parked on the sidewalks.

The councilman also led a tour down Northern Boulevard on Monday pointing out various dealerships between 55th and 61st streets, which had cars parked on the sidewalks. He added that the issue continues down the strip.

During the tour, a car left the Queensboro Toyota dealership on 62nd Street – located across the street from P.S. 152 – was seen heading the opposite way down a one-way street, and then entering a parking lot behind the dealership. According to residents, this is something that normally occurs.

Queensboro Toyota did not immediately respond to request for comment.

“We cannot, should not and will not accept pedestrians being forced onto Northern Boulevard to be able to get where they are going. That is so dangerous and potentially deadly and this problem has gone on for a while,” Van Bramer said.

Jackson Heights resident Clarence Eckerson Jr., a father of a newborn baby boy who said he often walks down the thoroughfare to go shopping with his wife, said he has seen this issue for a long time and the problem gets worse on the weekends.

Eckerson, who has taken photos of cars parked on the sidewalks, added that another problem is cars without license plates taking up metered spaces.

“We would like to see them step up and be good neighbors. I’d like my son to grow up on a Northern Boulevard that he can safely walk on and I don’t have to fear for his life,” Eckerson said. “[Car dealership owners] may not see parking their cars illegally on the sidewalk or blocking pedestrians as something that is anti-vision zero but it does contribute to the climate of making our streets dangerous and we’re here to let them know that.”

According to Van Bramer, this call is not an attack on the car dealerships that are running businesses and have every right to succeed; however, the community wants to be able to make changes before accidents happen — not after.

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$3M more invested into Hunters Point Community Library


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Long Island City community has fought for over a decade to get a library, and now its dream has started to become a reality — all with a little help from its friends.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer joined Queens Library Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey, other library representatives and local leaders on the LIC waterfront Tuesday afternoon to announce he had secured an additional $3 million toward the construction of the Hunters Point Community Library.

From the additional $3 million, $1 million comes from Van Bramer’s discretionary funds in this year’s budget and the other $2 million came over from City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“No one ever gave up on this project because we knew how important it was,” said Van Bramer, who has been working on getting the library built for the past 15 years and whose office has allocated a total of $6 million in funds. “This was my number one priority when I ran for office. It was my number one priority in my first year as a City Council member when we allocated those previous $3 million with the help of our previous speaker, and once again we come back to this project which I have never given up on and it’s one of my most proud moments.”

The state-of-the-art library, expected to be completed by the fall of 2017, will be the first neighborhood branch built in Queens in more than 20 years and was designed by architect Steven Holl. Its main interior circulation route will be cut into the west façade, opening up views to the East River and Manhattan skyline.

During Tuesday’s announcement, the Queens Library also presented a model of the new $33 million branch, which broke ground in May and will be located at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue.

“It is an exciting day to see this rising and to know that this community will have a library. A public library is the heart of a community, heart of a neighborhood and this is such a thriving, robust, wonderful community that has wanted a library for so long,” Quinn-Carey said.

The 21,500-square-foot facility will feature a reading garden, a rooftop terrace, reading rooms for all ages, a gallery, a performance space and a children’s area. Van Bramer also said inside the library there will be a tribute to LIC resident Fausta Ippolito, who passed away four years ago, but for years actively fought for the library to be brought to the community.

Along with the construction of the library, the project will also include the construction of the permanent 1,260-square-foot ranger station at Gantry Plaza State Park. The building will include a reception area, a park manager’s office and bathrooms for the public.

“This building, this library, which some folks thought it would never happen, is rising. It is actually happening and I’m so enormously happy,” Van Bramer said. “This library is going to be one of the most beautiful, one of the most architecturally significant libraries not only in Queens but in the city, if not the nation, and we’re going to be so proud to call that library the Hunters Point Community Library.”

Construction is underway at the future site of the Hunters Point Community Library.

Construction is underway at the future site of the Hunters Point Community Library.

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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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Citi Bike rolling into LIC this August


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

The blue bikes will finally be making their way into the “World’s Borough.”

Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, and the Department of Transportation announced Friday that the Citi Bike expansion, which was announced last October, will begin in early August with new stations being installed in various neighborhoods, including Long Island City.

The first wave of stations is part of a larger expansion plan that is expected to double the size of the bike share network from 6,000 to 12,000 bikes throughout the city over the next two years.

“With over 19 million trips, it is clear that New Yorkers love Citi Bike and we are excited to see the network double in size, expanding to Queens, more of Brooklyn, and upper Manhattan,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

There will be 91 new stations installed during this first phase of the expansion throughout Long Island City, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

Long Island City will get a total of 12 stations, including one by the Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av subway station, another in front of MoMa PS1, one next to the LIC Flea & Food and another right by Queensboro Plaza.

Map via citibikenyc.com

Map via citibikenyc.com

“The long-awaited arrival of Citi Bike in Long Island City is great news. Bike share will allow the people to enjoy our neighborhood in a healthy, fun way and facilitate easier travel around western Queens, an area in dire need of better mass transit,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said.

Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase, which debuted in 2013, but was pushed back after equipment damage from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.

Astoria is another Queens neighborhood slated for docking stations; however, those bikes will arrive at a later time.

“For years I have fought to bring Citi Bike to Queens and I’m proud to say that the blue bikes will be here soon,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “Cycling in western Queens has become extremely popular and the addition of 12 new Citi Bike docking stations add a much-needed alternative mode of transportation to an area of the borough that is growing and vibrant, and in need of more transportation options.”

Along with the expansion, Motivate has also replaced the software that powers Citi Bike, replaced software and hardware at all exiting stations and docking points, and added 1,000 new and upgraded bikes to its fleet. An additional 1,400 bikes will be added this summer to stock up the new stations.

The bikes, which were developed in partnership with Olympic bike designer Ben Serotta, have new features, including higher-quality parts and upgraded seats.

Motivate is also working to provide discounted Citi Bike memberships to residents of affordable housing developments, and free access for group rides to community-based organizations.

For more information on the Citi Bike expansion, visit www.citibikenyc.com/expansion.

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$100M transformation to turn Queens Boulevard into ‘Boulevard of Life’ begins


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

For Lizi Rahman and all other family members who have lost loved ones on Queens Boulevard, their dream of putting an end to the “Boulevard of Death” is finally starting to become reality.

Rahman — whose 22-year-old son Asif was fatally struck while riding his bicycle home in 2008 — joined Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives and local elected officials and community leaders on Thursday morning in Woodside to announce the beginning of the $100 million redesign of the busy thoroughfare which has claimed 185 lives since 1990.

“I decided to do everything in my power to get a bike lane on Queens Boulevard so that bicyclists would feel safe and no mother would go through this pain of losing a child,” Rahman said. “There were times when I was discouraged. I almost gave up but then I saw light at the end of the tunnel when Mayor de Blasio was elected. Now my dream is not a dream anymore; it became a reality.”

The first phase of the redesign project, which was unanimously approved by Community Board 2 last month, will focus on the 1.3-mile section of Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street, an area which saw six deaths, 36 severe injuries and 591 more hurt in traffic accidents between 2009 and 2013.

“Here is a lesson if ever there was one, on the fact that we had to change things here on Queens Boulevard. We were losing too many good people, and we could avoid those losses. And finally, the actions are being taken to save lives here on Queens Boulevard that should’ve happened long ago,” de Blasio said on Thursday.

Lizi Rahman lost her son in 2008 after he was fatally struck by a truck on Queens Boulevard while riding his bicycle home.

Lizi Rahman lost her son in 2008 after he was fatally struck by a truck on Queens Boulevard while riding his bicycle home.

The redesign of the thoroughfare is expected to decrease drivers from switching repeatedly between the main line and service road. The overall plan will be to get rid of the “highway-like design features” which encourage drivers to speed.

The improvements on the stretch, which will be installed through October, include safer crossings installed along the corridor; pedestrian islands and new mid-block crossings constructed to give pedestrians more time to cross; and the addition of high-visibility crosswalks and new signals.

“We have an obligation to make sure that not one more person loses their life on this boulevard,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “We will transform Queens Boulevard into that ‘Boulevard of Life.’ We will make it safer for everyone, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, all living in harmony and in safety.”

The DOT will also add protected bike lanes with buffers and new pedestrian space along the median next to the service lane in both directions. A raised, concrete bicycle path will be constructed under the overpass on the eastbound service road from 67th to 69th streets.

The project will also include pedestrian ramps being upgraded to be ADA-complaint improving accessibility to those with disabilities, and service roads will be reduced to one moving lane in each direction.

The DOT plans to soon begin the phase of the redesign of Queens Boulevard from 73rd Street to Eliot Avenue, and after from Eliot Avenue to Jamaica Avenue.

“So for all the people who depend on this crucial road, life will change for the better. And we’re going to use every tool we have to continue that work — not just on Queens Boulevard, but all over the city,” de Blasio said.

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LIC business community: BID expansion ‘a necessity’ for neighborhood growth


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Members of the Long Island City business community say the proposed plan to expand the existing business improvement district is a necessity in helping the area become more inviting and attractive.

The LIC BID, which was created in 2005 and is managed by the LIC Partnership, announced its plan Tuesday to create a new sub-district expanding the services of the BID to the corridors of Vernon Boulevard, Jackson Avenue and 44th Drive.

The expansion would provide services – such as street sanitation and beautification – that look to better support local businesses and promote a higher quality of life for the LIC neighborhood.

“Maintenance, beautification, sanitation – these things don’t just spontaneously happen. There needs to be an agent, an entity that supervises and guides this through,” said Dr. Angelo Ippolito, co-chair of the LIC BID Expansion Steering Committee and owner of L.I.C. Chiropractic. “We here in Long Island City think we are right up there with all the progressive neighborhoods, therefore we need a BID.”

The BID currently covers the Queens Plaza/Court Square sub-district made up of Queens Plaza North and South between 21st Street and Jackson Avenue/Northern Boulevard, and along Jackson Avenue to 45th Avenue.

Creating the sub-district will allow services to be tailored specifically to the new area while also benefiting from administrative cost savings from joint activities like marketing, business services, increased sanitation, beautification and daily management.

“It’s ideal for the businesses and we look forward to it. This is a great solution for something that needed to be done long ago,” said Gianna Cerbone-Teoli, co-chair of the LIC BID Expansion Steering Committee and owner of Manducatis Rustica.

LIC BID Expansion Steering Committee Co-Chairs Gianna Cerbone-Teoli, Dr. Angelo Ippolito and Paula Kirby.

LIC BID Expansion Steering Committee Co-Chairs Gianna Cerbone-Teoli, Dr. Angelo Ippolito and Paula Kirby.

According to local business owners, the expansion of the BID will also help increase foot traffic in areas that have not been seeing too much business and also bring in a variety of new businesses.

“I think having the BID here will help people realize that it is a place to come and do business,” said Donna Drimer, owner of Matted LIC. “Without it I’m not really sure how much small business can survive here. We’re caught. There’s a real disconnect between going to work in Manhattan, shopping in Manhattan, and coming home and not supporting the neighborhood.”

The BID expansion is expected to bring services such as street sanitation; retail attraction and real estate support; targeted community events; street beautification; advocacy for improved city services such as enhanced street and sidewalk lighting; and the creation and distribution of neighborhood marketing and promotional materials.

With being part of the BID, about 50 percent of the properties in the sub-district would be charged less than $660 annually and 75 percent will be charged less than $2,000 annually.

“I’m a huge supporter of the BID and big supporter of the expansion of the BID because this is going to give voice to so many small business owners. It’s going to empower more small business owners. It’s going to allow them to do so much more as a group of business owners,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said.

The members of the LIC BID Expansion Steering Committee say that local business owners and stakeholders have voiced support for the BID expansion and they plan to continue reaching out to the community through surveys and one-on-one discussions.

The LIC BID will be holding two public meetings on July 29 – one at Hunters Point Plaza, 47-40 21st St., at 9:30 a.m. and the other at 6:30 p.m. at the New York Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Avenue.

After collecting ballots of support, the expansion will then enter a process taking between nine to 12 months and must go through the City Planning Commission, Community Board 2, the Queens borough president, City Council, the mayor and the state comptroller.

“This is the most necessary thing we need at the moment. Everybody talks about beautification, everyone talks about so many other things but what we need right now is for this to happen for this neighborhood in order for it to continue to flourish in a positive way,” Cerbone-Teoli said.

For more information, visit licpartnership.org/bidexpansion.

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Sunnyside gets 15 new trash cans, replacing broken ones


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

Sunnyside just received a gift that will help keep its streets shining and clean.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District announced Tuesday afternoon that the neighborhood had received 15 new trash receptacles down sidewalks on Queens Boulevard and Greenpoint Avenue.

The new trash cans, which were installed over the weekend, were fully funded by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and will be serviced daily by the Sunnyside Shines maintenance team.

“We thank Majority Leader Van Bramer for his dedication to beautifying Sunnyside’s commercial district,” said Rachel Thieme, Sunnyside Shines executive director. “These trash receptacles are a big upgrade for the district and provide a more functional and attractive option to manage trash collection on our busy streets.”

The new receptacles are made of fabricated steel and painted black. They replaced broken cans that no longer closed or locked, which were taken away by the Department of Sanitation.

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Safety improvements unveiled at ‘deadly’ Astoria intersection


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Photo courtesy of DOT

A two-mile-long Astoria thoroughfare that has seen five fatalities and seven severe injuries between 2009 and 2013 has just gotten safer for pedestrians.

Representatives from the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) joined local elected officials and residents Friday morning to unveil corridor safety improvements for 21st Street between Hoyt Avenue South and Queens Plaza.

“We launched Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative in Queens over a year ago and every day we see the difference these safety project have throughout the ‘World’s Borough,’ from 21st Street to Queens Boulevard and beyond,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

The Astoria corridor, which is also a truck route, is made of a 60-foot-wide road with two travel lanes in each direction.

The safety improvements, which are part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, include adding a new pedestrian crossing at 29th Avenue through a new traffic signal; upgrading existing street lights to LED lights and adding more street lights on 21st Street to improve visibility; adding parking lane stripes along the street to define moving lines; and adding 12 painted curb extensions along the corridor to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians at nine intersections.

“For far too long, 21st Street has been known as a deadly speedway and the improvements we are introducing will help put an end to the reckless driving that has claimed too many lives,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said.

Earlier this year, DOT also installed seven-second Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs), which give pedestrian-only walk time before vehicles get a green light, at 10 intersections on 21st Street.

“This thoroughfare has long been notorious for pedestrian fatalities. Cars frequently travel above the speed limit and there have been several deaths due to car accidents on the street over the last decade,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides. “These Vision Zero improvements will make the street, home to major senior and youth developments, safer for pedestrians and drivers from across the community.”

Image courtesy of DOT

Image courtesy of DOT

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CM Van Bramer: More schools coming soon to Long Island City


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

With more than 22,500 new residential units planned for or already under construction in Long Island City, many questions about infrastructure are up in the air.

The lack of seats in schools in particular poses a great concern as current residents want to make sure that the institutions aren’t overloaded with children when thousands of new residents move in.

But Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer tried to clear up doubt about lack of school spaces during a Q&A at the second annual LIC Summit event on Tuesday at the Museum of the Moving Image.

While answering a question about more schools from a frustrated parent, Van Bramer said he has been working with the School Construction Authority (SCA) to find sites for new schools in LIC.

The politician and the SCA will have some “good news in terms of future school sites announced relatively quickly,” Van Bramer told The Courier following the panel.

The councilman couldn’t yet reveal details about the future schools in the area, such as where, how many seats or when they would be ready. But Van Bramer said he understands the concerns from parents and is hoping to get good news to the community soon.

“We need more schools,” he said. “I think that’s absolutely essential that we build more schools for the future of Long Island City. I feel the urgency on the part of some of the parents.”

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Long Island City ‘suffering from the side effects of its very success’


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

It has been on the minds of Long Island City leaders for a while, and during the second annual LIC Summit on Tuesday it was brought to light during the first panel entitled “City within the City.”

“It” refers to the struggle to maintain balance between building new residential and commercial structures while keeping older manufacturing spaces, which traditionally form the backbone of Long Island City.

The Long Island City Partnership, which co-hosted the LIC Summit with The Queens Courier and brokerage Modern Spaces, was even awarded a $100,000 grant in January to conduct a planning study of the neighborhood that would, in part, find an answer to maintaining the balance. The study is still in its preliminary stages, so a solution has not yet been found.

“Like with the city as a whole, in some ways Long Island City is suffering from the side effects of its very success,” said Seth Pinsky, vice president of RXR Realty, during the panel in front of more than 300 professionals and leaders in the Museum of Moving Image.

Pinsky pointed out that high demand to move to Long Island City causes land valuations to surge to levels where only residential projects would make financial sense, which stifles commercial development. In turn, developers convert industrial buildings into offices and retail, displacing old manufacturing jobs that many city residents without higher education have relied on for a long time.

But Pinsky’s point was challenged by Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, who urged against preserving spaces for older manufacturing and looking toward jobs for companies of the future, such as 3-D printing firm Shapeways and other technology businesses. These would require higher levels of education, which institutions such as the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island would provide.

“The emotional pull of manufacturing as we think of it in the past, the good blue-collar jobs for a population that didn’t have Ph.D.s, is not the future of manufacturing,” Wylde said. “Robots are going to replace people in most manufacturing. It’s not going to be the same kind of job provider that it has been in the past.”

Pinsky disagreed partly and countered that some old sections of manufacturing will still be important for the “foreseeable future,” such as construction, warehousing and distribution, because they will provide necessary services for businesses in the city. He added that there is a feeling that areas in LIC could easily become zoned residential and many workers would lose jobs as businesses close or move.

The problem of finding balance in Long Island City could be answered with a rezoning. Some of the first panelists agreed that the current proposal to rezone certain sections of Long Island City for more high-rise housing has to be examined more closely by the City Planning Department.

“I think that this is an opportunity for us to strike that right balance and find the density for the affordable housing that the administration is looking for,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said, “but also preserve some of the things that are worth preserving.”

Industry leaders also talked about the future of transportation, tourism, culture, zoning and LIC as a home for business in ensuing panels at the event.

And infrastructure problems in LIC, such as lack of green spaces and the need for more schools, were discussed as well. Van Bramer even promised that they are looking for spaces for new schools.

With various art and cultural institutions, restaurants, entertainment venues and a hotel sector— which is currently up to 26 buildings but has more than two dozen more in the pipeline — many recognized that LIC has become a destination with incredible growth.

During her opening speech, Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the Long Island City Partnership, revealed renderings of LIC two years in the future after 10 new towers will be added to the growing skyline. The dramatic expansion shown through the image caused gasps from audience members.

“There is a lot on the way,” Lusskin said. “And we’re not talking 10 years, we’re talking two years.”

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Long-time CB 1 leaders guide final full board meeting


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

It’s the end of an era for Community Board 1.

Vinicio Donato, who has been chairman of the board for nearly 40 years, and District Manager Lucille Hartmann, who has been on the board since 1978, oversaw their final public board meeting as leaders of the Astoria-based community group on Tuesday.

Awards and proclamation from various politicians poured in during the meeting, which was the final one before the summer break.

Donato, who has been on the community board since 1972, has served in leadership positions for various institutions and organizations in the borough, including the Museum of the Moving Image, the Astoria Historical Society and the Queens Museum. Hartmann has served as the community board’s district manager since 2008.

Councilmembers Costa Constantinides and Jimmy Van Bramer, and Borough President Melinda Katz made appearances at the meeting to deliver speeches to the long-time leaders and thank them for their work.

On June 29 there will be a special board meeting to vote and select the new district manager. However, Hartmann’s final day is officially July 17. There are currently three candidates running for the position.

George Stamatiades, the first vice chair of the board, will step in temporarily as chairman when the board reconvenes in September, and until members nominate and select a new chair.

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LIC residents call on DOT to return hundreds of public parking spaces


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents in Long Island City want the Department of Transportation to know that its decision to take away hundreds of public parking spaces at one parking garage is not in their favor and the agency needs to return what belongs to the community.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with angry residents Friday morning to call on the transportation agency to restore 330 public parking permits that were taken away by DOT at the Court Square Municipal Parking Garage, located at 45-40 Court Square.

“The DOT a few months ago without consultation decided they were going to change the rules, they were going to make it more difficult for the people in this community to park their cars, make it more difficult for them to get to work on time, take their kids to school, do all the things they need to do,” Van Bramer said. “These seem like small matters, but the truth is it’s the small things that make a big difference in the quality of life.”

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Along with removing over 50 parking spaces last December in order to make room for DOT vehicles, the policy of the garage was changed two months ago making 210 parking spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“It’s a wrong decision. It’s a foolish decision. It requires to be reversed not tomorrow but today,” resident Rama Rao said. “We are a community here. We contributed through Arris Lofts and other buildings around here to build Long Island City what it is today.”

According to residents, for the past two months they have had to wait hours in line during days designated by the DOT in order for them to pay their existing monthly parking and also ensure they get the spots for the following month.

“This is ‘The Hunger Games’ of monthly permit parking,” said P.C. Cheng, an LIC resident who has been parking at the garage since 2008.

Lines of hundreds of people fill the parking garage during those days and people have to wait in the middle of active driveways, some bringing in chairs to wait, according to residents. They say parking spaces have also been taken away to make room for a DOT storage facility surrounded by a fence.

Photo courtesy of P.C. Cheng

Hundreds of people waited hours to make sure they got a space at the Court Square Municipal Park for the month of June. (Photo courtesy of P.C. Cheng)

Cindy Vitari, who has been living in the neighborhood since 2007, said last month her husband had to wait four hours and was late to work.

“The sudden change is undemocratic. It’s not right for the residents of Long Island City,” Vitari said. “We have had to fight for space in our schools and anything to do with our public transportation, with our parking being taking away now, too.”

Van Bramer said that his office was never contacted in regard to the change and he is calling on the DOT to give the spaces back to the people that live and work in Long Island City.

“I am calling on them to rescind both of these policies which are not helping anyone here in Long Island City; they’re only making life more difficult for these folks who have invested in Court Square, invested in Long Island City,” Van Bramer said.

According to a DOT spokesperson, the DOT seeks a fair and efficient balance between daily and monthly permits and after hearing concerns from local stakeholders, the agency decided to implement the policy change in order to allow motorists to apply for 210 monthly spaces on a first-come, first-served basis.

The remaining 120 spaces, which used to be monthly spaces, are now being using for short-term parking and according to the DOT no spaces are being lost with the change of policy.

“This not only allows for all motorists to have a fair chance to apply for a monthly permit, but also allows for more short-term parking in the area, which is home to several courts, a museum and a law school,” a DOT spokesperson said.

In regard to the spaces being taken by DOT vehicles, the spokesperson said the agency’s operational fleet, which carry speed camera equipment, is kept there to be in close proximity to the unit they serve and are dispatched from. DOT also added that the spaces taken are not part of the 330 spaces made available to the public.

DOT also plans to implement an electronic permit reservation system this summer that will allow for a faster process.

The agency plans to review data obtained in the next several months and then make any necessary changes, if needed.

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PHOTOS: Jackson Heights celebrates 23rd annual Queens Pride Parade and Festival


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office/Gallery by Angy Altamirano

Under sunny skies, Jackson Heights was filled with color and music Sunday afternoon as the neighborhood celebrated this year’s Queens Pride Parade and Festival.

Kicking off the parade, which ran down 37th Avenue from 89th Street to 75th Street, was Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made history by becoming the first New York City mayor to serve as a grand marshal of the parade. He joined APICHA Community Health Center, which was also one of the grand marshals.

“This parade stands for a rejection of any bias and prejudice against the LGBT community,” de Blasio said. “We will not stand in this city for anyone who would harm our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. And this parade stands for that resolute value of New York City.”

De Blasio became the first mayor to march in the parade last year, and even marched in 2013 while still serving as public advocate.

Joining the mayor were local elected officials such Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Council members Daniel Dromm – who founded the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee over 20 years ago – Jimmy Van Bramer and Julissa Ferreras, and other city and state officials.

The theme of this year’s parade was “Pride – Strength – Unity,” according to organizers.

“We know what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us – ‘The arc of history is long but it bends towards justice.’ This parade epitomizes that constant movement towards justice. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep marching on until the day when everyone is truly embraced,” de Blasio said to paradegoers.

At the end of the parade, which featured colorful costumes and even four-legged participants, visitors were able to enjoy the Queens Pride Festival, which ran along 37th Road from 74th to 77th streets.

The festival featured about 100 vendors, community and social group booths and two stages of entertainment with performances that went on throughout the day.


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