Tag Archives: Councilman Paul Vallone

District 19 to get $14 million in 2015-16 city budget


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Paul Vallone

District 19 in north Queens received nearly $14 million for the upcoming fiscal year out of the $78.5 billion budget passed by the New York City Council on Friday.

Councilman Paul Vallone secured almost $7 million of the incoming funding, and an additional $4.1 million and $2.5 million were allocated by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito respectively.

According to Vallone, who is in his second year in his City Council seat, the amount earmarked for District 19 in that time is nearly as much as the area received in the previous six city budgets combined.

District 19 includes the areas of College Point, Whitestone, Malba, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale and parts of Flushing.

“As promised, I’ve continued working hand in hand with my fellow elected officials and have been able to ensure that my constituents finally begin to receive their fair share of funding,” said Vallone. “This year’s budget is another clear victory for our communities and will go a long way to continue making our schools, parks, libraries and nonprofits the best they can be.”

More than $2.5 million will be used for schools, and this combined with additional funds secured from Borough President Melinda Katz will ensure that each school in District 19 will receive at least $50,000. Some schools will also be receiving additional capital funding for needed structural upgrades.

Vallone’s funding also includes $2.4 million set to go to local parks, and more than $1 million allocated toward funding the winning projects of the participatory budgeting vote in April.

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Where to park and watch first Fort Totten Independence Day fireworks show


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo via Jon Sullivan/ Wikimedia Commons. Maps via Office of Councilman Paul Vallone

No doubt about it, excitement for the first-ever Fort Totten Independence Day fireworks show is exploding.

The July 1 fireworks show, which is the brainchild of Councilman Paul Vallone and the Bayside Historical Society (BHS), is expected to draw thousands of residents from around northeast Queens and may ignite an annual tradition.

Vallone and BHS began blasting new details to the public on Monday about the event, such as where to watch the fireworks and where to park vehicles, hoping the information will help to launch the fireworks show without a hitch and provide family-friendly fun for the community.

“I can’t imagine a better way to kick-start the summer than with a fireworks show and concert in Fort Totten,” Vallone said. “For the first time, residents in northeast Queens won’t have to travel far for world-class fireworks.”

The event will begin at 6 p.m. with performances from the MichelleMarie RockBand Camp, and then the Phil Costa & Something Special Band. The pyrotechnics show by Long Island-based Fireworks by Grucci will begin at 9:15 and last 15 minutes.

The fireworks will shoot up from the soccer fields, also known as the Parade Grounds, and about 2,000 residents should be able to fit in the lawn near the pool for prime viewing area. However, because the fireworks will be so high, many areas around Fort Totten will provide good views. Vallone said even Bronx residents will be able to see the show.

Take a look at the map of north Queens and the Bronx below for other visibility areas. The purple locations indicate viewing spots. 


Guests can park their vehicles at Little Bay Parking Lot, along Bell Boulevard, and beginning at 5 p.m. the Clearview Golf Course and the Bay Terrace Shopping Center parking lots. Shuttle bus service provided by Vallo Transportation will then take residents to Fort Totten from the golf course and shopping center. Vallo will have return buses to the lots from Fort Totten following the event.

Residents are asked to bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnic items to the event, however, alcohol is prohibited because Fort Totten is a park and security will check bags and storage devices, such as coolers.

Vending trucks will be on site with snacks and drinks, including roasted corn, lemonade, funnel cakes and corn dogs.

During the show, the BHS will announce the winner of its bee-naming silent auction.

BHS has two new beehives and two winning bidders will have the chance to have the queen bees named after themselves. The winners will also receive a Swarovski crystal tiara, a sash, a certificate, a gift basket with skin care products, a jar of local honey, and family membership to the BHS for one year. The starting bid is $250. To enter, email a bid to info@baysidehistorical.org.

Also, the BHS will extend hours to its castle so guests can view exhibitions, giving them a sense of the past of the community.

“We’ll be making history on July 1,” said Alison McKay, executive director of the BHS. “Hosting an Independence Day celebration right outside our front door is a great way for the community to link the past with the present.”

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Photos: Queens honors and remembers soldiers with Memorial Day parades


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Dominick Totino Photography/Gallery by Robert Pozarycki, Anthony Giudice, Liam La Guerre

Nearly a dozen Memorial Day parades were held in Queens over the weekend as the borough paid tribute to military men and women who protect the freedoms residents enjoy today.

Mayor Bill de Blasio marched in the Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, which began at 2 p.m. on Northern Boulevard and Jayson Avenue, alongside U.S. Representative Grace Meng, Borough President Melinda Katz, Public Advocate Letitia James, Councilmen Paul Vallone and Mark Weprin and Assemblyman Ed Braunstein.

Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, served as the parade’s grand marshal. Sutton hailed Memorial Day as a sacred time.

“It is a day that we come together to commemorate and remember and to think about all that we share in this great country and to remind ourselves that the cost and price of freedom is never free,” Sutton said. “That we are so blessed to be in the land of the free because of the brave.”

Parades were held in Woodside/Sunnyside, Whitestone, Laurelton, Howard Beach, Glendale/Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Forest Hills, College Point and Woodhaven.

New military recruits, veterans in vintage cars, fire fighters, police officers, JROTC members, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and marching bands participated in the borough’s parades while parents and children donned red, white and blue and waved the stars and stripes from sidewalks.

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Councilman Vallone introduces new student ambassadors


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Paul Vallone's office

Councilman Paul Vallone introduced last week a group of high school students that will be working in his office during the second year of his Educational Ambassador Program.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my student ambassadors and all the work they’ve accomplished in the first year,” Vallone said. “They played such an important role in supporting every aspect of the work our office does and I look forward to seeing our new group achieve their great potential.”

There are nine students participating this year from three different high schools. Ambassadors Abbas Husain, Hongju Choi, Kean Gibbons and Jennifer Kim are from Bayside High School; Erika Donis, Rawlanda Hinds and David Legunsa attend World Journalism Preparatory School; and Daniel Bosko and Josh Santis study at Holy Cross High School.

The inaugural year of the student ambassador program saw teens experiencing different aspects of a city council member’s responsibilities through the expanded program in Vallone’s office.

The first student ambassadors played a critical role in organizing a toy drive for Saint Mary’s Hospital for Children and helping to put on the Holiday Parade & Winter Festival on Bell Boulevard. Student ambassadors also had an integral part in the participatory budgeting process by spreading awareness about the process and staffing multiple voting sites.

Thanks to students’ efforts to increase the visibility of participatory budgeting, Vallone noted, District 19 had a 2015 voter turnout of over 1,000 residents to award funds for locally developed capital projects.

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Residents rally against high school planned for Bayside Jewish Center


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Residents living near the Bayside Jewish Center rallied with state Sen. Tony Avella on Thursday against a proposed high school planned for their neighborhood.

Around 75 people showed up at the intersection of 32nd Avenue and 204th Street and largely complained of overcrowded traffic and buses due to the existence of several other schools in the nearby vicinity, including a number of elementary schools and Bayside High School, which serves a student body of more than 3,000 only four blocks away.

While the protesters agreed that new schools should be built for local students, they did not think that their community could accommodate a school with a planned capacity of between 800 and 1,000 students.

Avella said the School Construction Authority (SCA) has systematically chosen school sites without the support of residents and elected officials, citing an unsuccessful 2013 outcry against an elementary school being built on 48th Avenue. He is introducing legislation which would amend education law to require detailed analyses to be made available upon the proposed construction of a new school in a city of over a million in population.

“Too many times, SCA has been allowed to barge into a neighborhood and construct a monstrous school wherever they choose,” said Avella. “We cannot allow this to keep happening.”

Henry Euler, first vice president of the Auburndale Improvement Association, said that he and many others were frustrated with the lack of participation afforded to the community in the decision-making process for a new development.

“Above all, what they should be doing is consulting us, and asking the residents, what do they want, what should we put here, what do you need,” Euler said.

Members of Community Board 11 spoke before the crowd to offer their objections at not being consulted on the location of a new school.

“Come to the community and ask,” said board member Paul DiBenedetto. “They don’t know, they just look on a map.”

Some attending the rally even placed blame on the owners of the Jewish center for selling the property to the SCA, asserting that the building’s owners did not take enough care to choose an appropriate buyer to fill their place.

“They shouldn’t turn their backs on their neighbors, and impose on them an outsize school that would completely demolish the quality of life,” said Lance Premezzi, a resident of 32nd Avenue since 1950.

Councilman Paul Vallone, however, indicated that while compromises with the community will have to be made in the process leading up to the school’s construction, he looks forward to seeing a new school in his district, whether it is installed at the former Jewish center or at an alternative site.

“Any project of this size will always have opposition but in the end, we must weigh the merits of the site against the overwhelming demand for additional seats,” Vallone, who was initially an outspoken supporter for the creation of the proposed high school at the Jewish center, said in a statement. “The significant overcrowding in our schools is an issue that has been put off for too long and will only continue to worsen if it is not addressed.”

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Whitestone neighbors rally against overdevelopment


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos by Rob Trombley and Liam La Guerre/Renderings courtesy of JLS Designs

About 125 residents, politicians and activists assembled in front of the 18-acre Whitestone Waterpointe site on Sunday to protest overdevelopment in the neighborhood, venting years of frustration over developers’ plans.

The We Love Whitestone Civic Association-organized rally reflected the unity of neighbors, who have fought against overdevelopment plans on the site at 151-45 Sixth Rd. for nearly a decade, to stay strong and hold current developer Edgestone Group to a community-supported plan for 52 single-family homes instead of one for 107 townhouses.

“We want to make sure what they say stays,” said Alfredo Centola, president of the civic group. “How do we know that they are not going to turn around and pull a fast one by trying to appease the community for now?”

Last month, Edgestone unveiled a plan for 107 townhouses with a total of 203 units — quadruple the original 52-home plan, which was decided years prior. The developer switched back to the original plan after facing community pressure.

Opponents said the larger proposal would harm the community, because the population increase could put a burden on public services and institutions, such as sewers and schools. Additionally, they want to protect the contextual character of the neighborhood.

“I was born and grew up in Whitestone. It’s a beautiful town and they would destroy it with all this construction,” said resident Donna McCutchen. “This whole area has one-family homes. That’s what we want to keep it like here.”

The 52 single-family residences could retail for about $2 million each, according to the architect Joe Sultana. About 40 will be between 2,000 to 3,000 square feet with private yards and garages. The remaining 12 will be bigger, more luxurious homes, closer to the waterfront.

An environmental cleanup of the site will begin later this year. After the site has been cleaned, Edgestone will reapply to update the original special permit to construct the 52 homes.

That special permit, which expired a few years ago, symbolizes the community’s opposition to overdevelopment of more than just the Waterpointe site.

“The one great thing about this plan when it was approved is it was a template for future development,” state Sen. Tony Avella said. “We’re not going to let that template be destroyed and all of a sudden a new developer comes in and they say, ‘Well they were allowed to do more.’ The line in the sand is here.”

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Whitestone to protest against overdevelopment of Waterpointe site


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Cushman & Wakefield

The Whitestone rally against overdevelopment is still on.

Despite developer Edgestone Group’s plan to return to the original 52 single-family home proposal for the massive 18-acre Waterpointe site instead of 107 townhouses, residents will hold a protest in front the site on Sunday, venting years of built-up anxiety of overdevelopment on vacant plots in the neighborhood.

The We Love Whitestone Civic Association is calling for residents to attend the rally to hold Edgestone’s feet to the fire on the renewed promise to build single-family detached homes on the site.

“We want to make sure to let them and any developer that might come in know that we will remain diligent and what was approved for 52 homes will be built there,” said Alfredo Centola, president of We Love Whitestone.

Edgestone Group unveiled plans to build 107 townhouses on the site at a Community Board 7 committee meeting in April. Overall, the plan called for 97 two-family townhouse homes and nine additional single-family houses. In total there would be 203 units and most of the units would be two-bedrooms.

The proposal received immense backlash from residents and politicians, who want to protect the character of the neighborhood and fear the effects of an increase in population.

Councilman Paul Vallone, who will attend the rally, said the pressure community groups such as We Love Whitestone, Welcome To Whitestone Civic Association and the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association, put on Edgestone forced the developer to change back to the original plan, and he said the continued effort is necessary.

“The return to the community-approved plan for 52 single-family homes and community park is an enormous win for Whitestone and its future,” Vallone said. “However, winning these battles does not mean that we will let our guard down.”

The rally will take place at Sixth Road and 151st Place on Sunday, May 17, at 1 p.m.

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Developer to break ground on 45-home Whitestone project this summer


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy Frank Petruso Architect PC

The new owner of the former Cresthaven Country Club site in Whitestone is hoping to break ground on a massive development project of 45-single family detached homes by the end of the summer.

Most of the homes on the six-acre site will have approximately 2,500 square feet of living space with four bedrooms and four full bathrooms, according to Tim O’Sullivan of Fulcrum Real Estate Advisors, which purchased the site in a foreclosure auction last month for $13.6 million.

Great Neck-based architect Frank Petruso is designing the project. The current plans could change, but the 45 homes in O’Sullivan’s plans would sit on 4,000- to 6,000-square-foot lots, so each could have space for driveways and private yards. And based on the renderings, homes would have garages and basements. They could sell for $1.5 to $2 million each.

Although original plans were for 50 homes, they were shrunk to 45 so each home will have more space.

However, as smart investors do all the time, O’Sullivan is testing the real estate market to see the possible value for the site and has listed it with brokerage Cushman & Wakefield. He is taking offers for the site, but said a potential buyer would have to offer a price that “hit it out of the park” to get him to sell the site.

“Very few people get a chance to make their mark with 45 properties in an area,” said O’Sullivan, who grew up in Whitestone. “Our intention is we are in the ground in the summer. That’s the reason we bought the property.”

He added, “After we got it on auction, I had people coming to me offering me ‘X’ dollars. What we decided to do is put it out there and test the market. But we are continuing with our development plans.”

Stephen Preuss of Cushman & Wakefield, who is handling marketing for the site, said he doubts any potential buyer of the site would try to divert from the plan.

“For them to be in the ground in the next few months, they would have to follow those plans,” Preuss said. “I don’t think any developer would change those plans. It’s been well received by the community.”

Cresthaven Development Site

Cresthaven site

While residents and politicos in the area have approved O’Sullivan’s plan, they are starting to warm up to another developer’s plan for the nearby 18-acre Waterpointe site.

After negotiations with Councilman Paul Vallone, Edgestone Group, which owns the much larger site, turned away from a plan with 107 townhouses to one with 52 community-supported, single-family residences with a waterfront park, promenade, marina and other amenities.

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Facing strong opposition, developer to build just 52 homes on Whitestone Waterpointe site


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

52-home plan

Whitestone can breathe again.

Following unyielding pressure by residents and politicians, including the announcement of a planned protest, developers of the 18-acre Waterpointe site are returning to the original proposal of 52 single-family detached homes instead of one that would have had quadruple the number of units.

Officials from Edgestone Group, which purchased the land at 151-45 Sixth Rd. for $11.3 million in 2012, decided to change course after negotiating with Councilman Paul Vallone. Both parties confirmed exclusively to The Courier that the developer will return to the original proposal the community supported years ago instead of the recently unveiled 107 townhouses — possibly avoiding a war in Whitestone.

“So much has been talked about this site, and now you’ve got a community fearing the worst,” Vallone said. “I’m proud to work with [the architect] Joe Sultana and the owners to get their commitment to go back to the original agreement, because that’s really what everyone has always wanted.”

Also, the developer will keep plans for community amenities, including a much-needed two-acre waterfront park, promenade, a 60-boat marina, and potentially an “eco-dock” from which residents can fish and go kayaking.

In a Community Board 7 (CB 7) committee meeting last month, Edgestone unveiled its updated plan for the property, which included 97 two-family townhouses and nine additional single-family townhouses, for a total of 203 units.

Whitestone Waterpointe piece

The backlash by residents and politicians was strong. They complained that it would dramatically impact the community and put a burden on schools, roads, sewers and other public systems. Also, they said the townhouses would ruin the contextual character of the neighborhood, which has mostly single-family detached residences.

“[The developer] is doing the right thing for the community,” said Joe Sweeney, a member of the CB 7 Zoning Committee. “He’s basically responding by meeting community wishes and not disrespecting the community. That plan would have had a tremendous effect.”

Edgestone initially turned away from the 52 large single-family homes because they would each have to retail for $2 million, a price tag the group figured would take longer to sell.

However, the developer agreed to the old plan because they’ll be able to begin working faster on the long-stalled development site.

“What it’s come down to is the developer wants to start working on this,” Sultana said. “If we go to the 200 units or anything else but the 52 [homes], we’d have to refile and go through city approval all over again and that’s probably going to take a year and a fight. So the developer is eager to get started. ”

Sultana couldn’t yet give many details about the homes, but said 40 of them will be between 2,000 to 3,000 square feet with private yards and garages. The remaining 12 will be bigger, more luxurious homes, closer to the waterfront.

An environmental cleanup of the site will begin later this year. After the site has been cleaned, the developer will reapply for the original special permit for 52 homes, which has since expired.

Despite this news, residents are still planning to hold Sunday’s rally hosted by the We Love Whitestone Civic Association at 1 p.m. in front the site.

“Absolutely,” said Alfredo Centola, president of the civic group. “How do we know this is not just a ploy to get us to back away, and as soon as we turn away they change again?”

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Politicians allocating more than $700K to expand Little Neck’s Udalls Cove


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Eco-friendly advocates may see more green for the park known as Udalls Cove.

Councilman Paul Vallone, Borough President Melinda Katz and state Sen. Tony Avella are allocating a combined $710,000 toward acquiring more land for the 30-acre inlet of Little Neck Bay, which has marshes and wetlands inhabited by various wildlife and plants.

The money will allow the city to purchase and add to the park the “Callender Property,” which is a vacant 11,800-square-foot site near Sandhill Road that borders the park, at the request of the nonprofit Udalls Cove Preservation Committee (UCPC).

“This will preserve the future and expand the area [of the park],” Vallone said. “We don’t have many spaces left like that.”

A house was on the property until 2006, when it was demolished. Recently the site hit the market for sale and members of the  UCPC, which has been advocating to protect the wetlands since 1969, has been hoping to purchase it out of fear that a buyer will want to redevelop it.

Potential developers of the site may try to build a large home, meaning it would tower over the park, and debris and materials from the construction could flow into the wetlands, potentially harming the environment, said Walter Mugdan, president of the UCPC.

“If those properties were ever allowed to be developed, it will waste all the money the city has put into Udalls Cove,” Mugdan said. “Suddenly the park would be ruined. It would destroy the ecosystem.”

A map of part of Udalls Cove, showing the “Callendar Property” outlined in red.

A map of part of Udalls Cove, showing the “Callender Property” outlined in red.

A variety of wildlife inhabits Udalls Cove, including egrets, herons, ducks, geese, swans, raccoons, foxes, osprey, many kinds of fish, frogs and turtles.

Since officially recognizing Udalls Cove as a park in 1972, the city has acquired private lots around it and expanded it. The Parks Department currently has identified about a dozen other parcels that it wants to buy from private owners. Together it would take a few million dollars, according to Mugdan, so they have been focusing on buying some at a time.

Vallone and Katz are allocating $250,000 each, and Avella will allocate $210,000. The UCPC and another neighborhood organization has collected about $45,000 to help purchase some more parcels. Mugdan said the asking price for the “Callender Property” is $575,000, so they should have enough.

Besides the potential of harm from construction, Mugdan said that since the home was torn down nature has reclaimed the land, and plants and animals now call it home. They want to preserve the area that way.

“In urban areas, preserving the wildlife space that we have should be among our top priorities as elected officials,” Avella said. “Udalls Cove is home to several species of plants and animals that need our help to ensure that their habitats are not disturbed.”

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Participatory budgeting extends to more Queens council districts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photos

Residents in nine Queens City Council districts will be given the power this year to decide where and how their tax dollars will be spent in their communities.

Last spring, community members in three Queens council districts – Councilman Mark Weprin’s District 23, Councilman Donovan Richard’s District 31 and Councilman Eric Ulrich’s District 32 – were given the opportunity to vote on community projects that would benefit from one million dollars of each council member’s capital discretionary funds.

This year joining those three districts are six new Queens council districts including Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras’ District 21, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz’s District 29, Councilman I. Daneek Miller’s District 27, Councilman Paul Vallone’s District 19, Councilman Costa Constantinides’ District 22 and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s District 26.

The overall process begins in the fall when residents suggest ideas and choose budget delegates during public meetings. Those volunteers then develop proposals based on the suggestions which are presented to the public before the voting occurs.

Voting this year will take place between April 11 and April 19 and each voter, ages 16 and up, can chose up to five projects. A total of 24 council members throughout the city are participating in this year’s voting.

“Participatory budgeting has been rewarding for our entire district. This entire process has featured ideas generated by members of the community,” Constantinides said. “It has provided an opportunity for residents to become engaged with the civic process through events and meeting. Everyone has shared their common love of their neighborhood and become more interconnected.”

Projects being voted on in Constantinides’ district include renovations at local schools, such as sound proofing P.S. 122’s cafeteria, redesigning the streetscape on Newtown Avenue between 32nd and 22rd streets to construct a pedestrian plaza, turning unused lots into dog runs in Astoria and Jackson Heights, and renovating the basketball court at the Astoria Houses.

In Councilman Miller’s district, residents will be able to vote on 23 projects which include improvements at local parks, technology upgrades at schools and enhancing cultural facilities such as upgrading the Jamaica Performing Arts Center.

The $1 million in projects that residents in District 19 can vote on include creating a $400,000 state-of-the-art music studio at Bayside High School, funding three NYPD security cameras, and installing real time passenger countdown clocks along the Q12 and Q13 bus routes.

“With a wide range of voting locations throughout northeast Queens, we encourage and hope to see everyone come out and vote for the projects that they believe will have the best impact on the community,” Vallone said.

In District 23, voters can choose projects such as upgrades to the Queens Village and North Hills libraries, fitness equipment at Alley Pond Park, technology upgrades at local schools and portable security cameras at three sites.

Residents in Councilman Ulrich’s district that encompasses Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park can vote on projects such as renovating the Forest Park Dog Park, refurbishing the 9/11 memorial in Forest Park and installing emergency call boxes in Forest Park. For residents living in the councilman’s district in the Rockaway peninsula, projects include a $500,000 repair of center medians along Cross Bay Boulevard, upgrades to local schools, and the construction of a rock climbing wall in Rockaway Beach adjacent to the new boardwalk.

For more information on the projects and where to vote, click here.

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Bayside Business Association re-elects members, talks 2015 outlook


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

The Bayside Business Association (BBA) re-elected its slate of executive members and outlined its agenda for the next 12 months during the group’s annual membership and elections meeting on Friday at the Bayside Diner.

The meeting, run by BBA President Judith Limpert, kicked off with extensive networking between members and non-members of the board. Limpert then gave an overview of the BBA’s role in the community, and focused on how the BBA could be more involved in Bayside to better the businesses of the area.

“Now our focus is all Bayside,” said Limpert. “Our goal is to bring business and help the businesses in Bayside. It is not to bring in outsiders to compete with Bayside, that’s not what we want to do.”

Since its creation in 1997, the BBA has assisted with the overall planning and oversight of commercial and economic programs in Bayside; aided in developing a model shopping district that enables small businesses to compete in the marketplace; educated businesses to support their growth; and provided local businesses a voice in the community by joining forces with government agencies.

It has also been involved with many beautification projects that have benefited both businesses and the community, including street cleanings, tree plantings, holiday lighting and graffiti removal.

“We try very, very hard to give you a bang for your buck and make a community impact,” Limpert said. “We do a lot of seminars, we do a lot of business partnerships that benefit you as a member.”

The BBA is also involved in many fundraising events throughout the year that promote local businesses in Bayside and help the BBA pay for the many services it provides. One such event is the Taste of Bayside, which raised $3,800 last year, an annual golf outing and a day at the races event.

“Fundraisers are very community orientated and that’s why we love doing them,” Limpert said.

Councilman Paul Vallone was also in attendance and gave the BBA a quick insight into what his office is planning for in the coming year to help improve Bayside.

Councilman Paul Vallone

One of Vallone’s focuses is helping veterans.

“Of the $75 billion budget … the budget last year for veterans was $400,000,” Vallone said. “We have 200,000 veterans — that’s two dollars per veteran.”

Vallone also hopes to bring another high school into Bayside. With a shortage of high schools, both public and private, in the Bayside area, Vallone feels that students who go through the grammar school system in the community should have an opportunity to continue their education in Bayside.

“I am cautious,” Vallone said. “You always want the least impact to the community, but the greatest growth for our kids.”

Vice President Annie Tom announced that membership increased this year, but the organization has higher aspirations in 2015.

“In 2014, we added 20 new members,” Tom said. “Our 2015 plan is to get 50 new members. At one time we had over 200 members, and our plan in the near future is actually to get back to that level.”

Some of the benefits of being a member include admission to seminars featuring current topics of interest for business, such as how to use social media to grow their business; online advertising on the BBA website with a link to their business; networking opportunities; and helpful workshops.

“We need to reach out to our members, as well as the community, to let them know the value of being a BBA member,” Tom said.

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Councilman Vallone to introduce legislation for no-fly zone for drones


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wiki Commons

City Councilman Paul Vallone is calling for a no-fly zone for unmanned aircraft, or drones, over New York City.

Vallone, with the support of nine other council members, will introduce a bill on Wednesday that would empower local authorities to better enforce the Federal Aviation Authority Law regarding drones.

The bill, among other things, would make it a violation for drone operators to fly above four hundred feet in the air or out of the operator’s line of sight and to come within five miles of airports.

“Drone technology is rapidly advancing and quickly becoming more available and affordable,” Vallone said. “New York City can regulate drones now without waiting for the FAA to update federal regulations or for a tragedy to happen.”

Vallone worked with Queens District Attorney Richard Brown to write the legislation. The city currently has little guidance on how to enforce the relatively new trend of flying drones around the city for recreation. If the bill is passed, city authorities would have a clear set of guidelines to enforce the rules.

Vallone began drafting the bill in July after two drones were seen flying near the George Washington Bridge, an act that would be a violation under Vallone’s  bill, if it is enacted into law.

“I believe that this bill takes a pragmatic and comprehensive approach to regulating unmanned aerial vehicles and will ultimately make our city safer,” Vallone said.

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Bayside no longer under consideration for homeless shelter site


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Potential plans to create an emergency homeless shelter in Bayside have been scrapped after a month of deliberations.

In late October, the Department of Homeless Services looked into Bayside as a possible candidate to host a homeless shelter. But, according to Councilman Paul Vallone, those plans have since been removed.

After hearing about the potential shelter last month, Vallone wrote a letter to the agency in which he asserted his belief that Bayside was not a good site for a shelter because of a lack of transportation and the residential nature of the area.

“I thank the Department of Homeless Services for listening to our concerns,” Vallone said, “and deciding to abandon plans for an emergency shelter in Bayside. As I’ve said before, my district not only has the lowest population of homeless persons in the whole city, but Bayside in particular lacks the infrastructure and public transportation options to support an emergency shelter. I’m glad that the DHS considered these obstacles and concerns and came to agree that Bayside is an inappropriate location.”

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Bayside could be site of new homeless shelter


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Updated Thursday, Oct.23

The Department of Homeless Services is considering putting an emergency homeless shelter in Bayside, but before plans are even set, there is already opposition.

There are currently no concrete details in place, and the agency said it hasn’t specified where in Bayside such a shelter would go. But they said that “at this time” there are currently no plans for a shelter in Bayside.

The spokesman added, “However, as the agency sheltering New York’s most vulnerable, it is our hope that communities across the city can find compassion to help and embrace these New Yorkers as they are rebuild their lives so they can soon contribute to a stronger New York from which we can all benefit.”

After hearing about the potential shelter, Councilman Paul Vallone voiced his disapproval.

“Of all the places to target for an emergency homeless shelter, Bayside, one of the most residential neighborhoods in New York City with an extreme lack of public transportation options, is not even remotely appropriate,” he said.

Vallone wrote a letter to the Department of Homeless Services in an attempt to stop the shelter before the city makes a final decision.

“As we’ve seen time and time again, a lack of community involvement, input or dialogue with civic leaders and not offering alternative sites clearly shows a complete disregard for the effect on our community,” Vallone said. “So to make it very clear, I am against this and our community is against this, and we will not sit idly by while the DHS makes their determination.”

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