Tag Archives: Councilmember Daniel Dromm

Flushing gay rights activist honored with street co-naming


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THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

A local activist who paved the way for gay rights was honored along with her family with a street co-naming Saturday on the Flushing block where she lived and worked.

Standing in front of Jeanne Manford’s former home on 171st Street, politicians, including openly-gay Councilman Daniel Dromm, neighbors and members of the gay rights community, held a ceremony to unveil the new Jeanne, Jules and Morty Manford PFLAG Way street sign.

“I think it’s important for everybody to know the struggle that we’ve gone through, and how we got to where we are today, and it was because of people like Jeanne, Jules and Morty that we are where we are today,” Dromm said.

Photo courtesy of Councilman Daniel Dromm’s office

Manford founded Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in 1972 and walked with her gay son, Morty, in the New York City Pride March at a time when homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder. The Manfords also took in young people who were thrown out of their homes for being gay.

Now PFLAG has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 members across the country that work toward improving the rights of gay people everywhere.

“We all do the work that we do because it’s right and it feels good and it’s just the right thing to do, but when Jeanne did it, it was so courageous,” said Dale Bernstein, president of PFLAG.

Manford, who died last year at the age of 92, was awarded the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal for her achievements by President Barack Obama.

Jeanne’s daughter Suzanne Swan, who lives in California, attended the ceremony, where she recalled memories of her mother.

“She was just my mother,” she said. “She was just nice, sweet, quiet, and it’s just overwhelming for me to come here and hear the stories and see the people, it’s been fantastic.”

 

 

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Pol, residents call on Jackson Heights Starbucks to clean up its garbage


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated: Tuesday, March 4, 11:07 a.m. 

A group of Jackson Heights residents are telling one Starbucks shop that enough is enough.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm gathered with residents in front of the Starbucks located on 78-25 37th Ave. Friday to call attention to the growing issue of garbage being dumped on the residential block of 79th Street instead of in front of the coffee shop.

“It’s really kind of sad that we have to be out here because we are trying to work so hard with Starbucks to get them to be responsible but yet they remain irresponsible and they don’t want to help the neighborhood,” said Dromm. “They’ve become bad neighbors and they refuse to cooperate.”

The councilmember, who lives on 78th Street, said he has attempted to reach out to the manager of the location and the Starbucks district office but has not heard back from them.

For the past year and a half, Dromm’s office has received numerous complaints from 79th Street residents about the garbage, which at times become mountainous piles and are left out on the curb for more than a day.


Photo Courtesy Office of Councilmember Daniel Dromm

“This is a real quality of life issue especially for those of us whose apartments face 79th Street where we are subject to loud garbage pickups in the middle of the night, food and coffee grinds that are strewn along the sidewalk and street and never cleaned up,” said resident Susan Latham. “It’s disgusting.”

The residents have also tried calling 3-1-1, but say no fines have been issued because Starbucks leaves the garbage close to 50 feet away from its location, making it hard to find.

“Starbucks has been littering heavily on 79th Street for several years. This is against the law,” said resident Elisa Carlucci, who lives on 79th Street. “City agencies, such as the Business Integrity Commission and 3-1-1, although acting in good faith, have been unable to have any impact because they’re searching the wrong area – in front of the business’ storefront.”

Dromm has also sent a letter to the Starbucks district office, saying the store is breaking a city administrative code that requires businesses to place their garbage on the curb at certain designated times.

“We’re going to ask people, don’t patronize Starbucks until they work with the neighborhood,” Dromm said. “Enough is enough, we’ve had it.”

Starbucks will be looking into this case and make sure all standards are being met, according to company spokesperson Laurel Harper.

“Being a good neighbor is really important to Starbucks, and we have stringent cleanliness standards in place for our stores and for the proper disposal of garbage,” Harper said. “We’re looking into this and making sure our standards are being followed, and look forward to working with our neighbors to address their concerns.”

 

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Corona immunization clinic set to close once again


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

It’s déjà-vu for two major immunization walk-in clinics as the city renews its plans to close the sites by the end of the month, according to union leaders.

In August, the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced it would close the Corona Health Center, located at 34-33 Junction Blvd., and the Tremont Health Center in the Bronx. After community protest, the city temporarily stopped the plan and rescheduled the closing for the end of 2013.

Yet, after keeping the clinics open into the New Year with funds provided by the City Council, closures are expected for the end of February.

“The function of immunization is prevention,” said Fitz Reid, president of Local 768, a union representing health care workers. “It’s not just job protections, it’s to protect the children, protect the public.”

The closures are expected to severely limit access to free and low-cost immunizations for low-income and poor families, protecting them from diseases such as the flu, meningitis, Hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella and others.

The DOHMH also plans on cutting the hours of its STD clinics, according to union leaders.

Public employee union District Council 37 tried to hold a meeting with the Health Department, but said it was not productive as no immunization representative attended. The group now wants to schedule a new meeting with the hope of getting their concerns heard by the department’s newly appointed commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett.

“We’re hoping that when she takes the reigns, we’ll be able to meet with her and have a productive meeting where we emphasize the importance of the clinics in the communities,” said Judith Arroyo, president of Local 436, United Federation of Nurses and Epidemiologists. “We’re just waiting for a response.”

According to Arroyo, the immunization clinics are necessary because they serve as the first step for immigrant families to learn about health care and begin immunization records for their children.

One of the major issues at hand is that every closure has been kept from the community, said leaders. Residents would then have to travel to the Fort Greene Health Center, located at 295 Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn, the city’s only walk-in immunization clinic.

“I continue to oppose the closure of the Corona immunization clinic,” Councilmember Daniel Dromm said. “The Department of Health unfortunately has decided to keep their plans for the center in the dark. Residents need to have access to these services, including school children who are required to have certain shots before attending class.”

The DOHMH did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

 

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Workers left unemployed for Christmas after Trade Fair abruptly closes


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Photo Courtesy of RWDSU Communications

Rafael Polanco might have to tell his two children that this Christmas will come without presents.

The East Elmhurst resident, along with 49 other union workers, all lost their jobs on Dec. 10 when the Trade Fair Supermarket, on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, closed its doors abruptly without giving the workers any notice.

The workers claimed they turned up on Tuesday morning and management told them the store had been sold and they had to go home because they no longer had jobs.

“They didn’t give us an explanation. They didn’t give us a number to call. They didn’t say anything about the new owner. No one gave us an explanation,” said Polanco, who has been a deli worker at Trade Fair for 14 years. “They treat their workers like animals. We are human, they should give us explanations.

Members of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW and Local 342 UFCW, unions representing the Trade Fair workers, gathered with local elected officials and community members in front of the supermarket on Dec. 13 to protest Trade Fair’s actions and to call on the new owner, Amana Key Food LLC, to hire the terminated workers.

According to the unions, Trade Fair’s closing and termination of the worker violates the collective bargaining agreements held with the owner, which demands the company give the union and workers two weeks notice of either sale or closure.

Amana Key Food LLC filed an application or a liquor license with the State Liquor Authority for the site on November 14, showing the sale has been in the works for more than a month, according to the unions.

In March, meat department workers in all nine Queens Trade Fair locations went on an Unfair Labor Practice strike fighting for a fair contract and against unfair labor practices. During the strike the owner was accused of treating workers with disrespect and putting their live in danger with exits being blocked most of the time.

“For far too long he [Farid Jaber] has been a bad neighbor,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “This is a clear violation of his contractual obligation and labor law. He has betrayed his employees and the community of Jackson Heights.”

Last week’s termination happened just weeks before Christmas, leaving workers like Polanco looking for jobs and wondering where they will get money to give gifts to their kids.

“Us older people we understand the situation but the children don’t understand,” Polanco said.

According to a union representative, days after the rally Amana Key Food LLC handed out job applications to the terminated workers, but none have been hired yet.

Amana Key Food LLC could not be reached for comment and Trade Fair did not respond.



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Local advocates march for Queens Boulevard safety improvements


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated, 5:22 p.m

A group of local residents want to make the “Boulevard of Death” a thing of the past.

Regardless of the snow, members of Transportation Alternatives’ (T.A.) Queens Activist Committee and residents gathered Saturday to march down Queens Boulevard during the “Winter Wander” Rally to call for a safer thoroughfare.

The group of advocates, who began the event at New Life Fellowship Church in Elmhurst, spoke about the Zero on Queens Boulevard campaign, calling for a redesign of the strip with pedestrian safety improvements, dedicated lanes for Select Bus Service (SBS) and protected bike lanes.

The snowy march served as the first step in letting people know what they can do to change the busy corridor.

“We’ve been trying to build community support for the city to re-envision Queens Boulevard,” said Jessame Hannus, co-chair of T.A.’s Queens Activist Committee, who carried a sign that read “30 mph” to remind drivers of the speed limit. “We just want to make it clear that this is a neighborhood street and we are all neighbors.”

Hannus said even though many accidents happen on the boulevard, the community just ignores them because they believe it is normal.

According to a “Queens Blvd. Crash Data” map by T.A., there have been 890 pedestrian injuries, 17 pedestrian fatalities, 205 cyclist injuries and 2 cyclist fatalities between 2002 to 2011 on Queens Boulevard stretching from Jackson Avenue in Long Island City to Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica.

“The community doesn’t respond to it,” she said. “It does not have to be this way and it’s not going to change unless we make a fuss about it.”

During the march street safety advocates discussed the history of the roadway, stopping at specific spots pedestrians lost their lives. The “Winter Wander” Rally ended in Forest Hills.

The Zero on Queens Boulevard campaign,  with more than 40 coalition partners and close to 2,000 petition signatures, has a long-term goal of making sure the city allocates funding and energy to change the boulevard on a large scale saving lives and strengthening the local economy.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm, who has worked with the Department of Transportation to implement neighborhood slow zones and other pedestrian safety improvements in his district, also joined the group on the march. In his district three children have also lost their lives in traffic fatalities in the past few months.

“This is a very, very serious issue and we have to continue to stress the seriousness of this because sometimes people dismiss it as just something that doesn’t affect their lives but when you look at the statistics you see that there are more pedestrian deaths than there are murders in the city of the New York,” said Dromm. “I believe in the three E’s:  engineering, education and enforcement on these issues and that’s what we have tried to do in my council district. More needs to be done.”

According to the DOT, there have been decade-long improvements to the seven-mile strip that have re-engineered the streets for enhanced safety. Some of these improvements include pedestrian countdown signals at more than 60 intersections at Queens Boulevard from Queens Plaza South to Hillside Avenue, lowering the speed limit on Queens Boulevard from 35 to 30 mph, installing 15 electronic boards displaying the speed of passing motorists, installing 46,000 linear feet of pedestrian fencing along the entire corridor to prevent jaywalking and many more.

“Safety is DOT’s top priority, in the last ten years, traffic fatalities have fallen borough-wide by nearly 35 percent,” said DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera. “Queens Boulevard saw 18 pedestrian fatalities at its height in 1997 and zero pedestrian fatalities in 2011, the first time this has been recorded, and two last year along the entire seven-mile corridor. We continue to look for ways to enhance safety both on Queens Boulevard and citywide.”

 

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Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights lights up for the holidays


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Photo Courtesy Councilmember Daniel Dromm's Office

Councilmember Daniel Dromm gathered with State Senator Jose Peralta, the nonprofit SUKHI NY, Moin Choudhury of Association for Justice Inc., Friends of Diversity Plaza and local residents at Diversity Plaza, located at 37th Road between 73rd and 74th Streets in Jackson Heights on Sunday to light the plaza’s 16-foot holiday tree.

The Friends of Diversity Plaza includes members from the office of Councilmember Daniel Dromm, the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership and the Birchwood House.

“I want to thank everyone for pulling together to make this space better each year,” said Dromm. “The second annual tree lighting was a success.”

 

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Elmhurst vigil marks one month since Typhoon Haiyan


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Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Daniel Dromm's Office

A month after what is expected to be one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded hit the Philippines, the local Filipino community is coming together to remember those lost.

Local elected officials gathered Sunday with members of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) at St. James Episcopal Church in Elmhurst to mark the one month anniversary since Typhoon Haiyan hit, during a candlelight vigil, followed by an interfaith mass.

“My heart goes out to those individuals impacted,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “In the face of disaster it is encouraging to see communities pull together to lend support. Groups such as Taskforce Haiyan, which gives 100 percent of donations to the cause, are an integral step towards recovery.”

Haiyan affected many areas of Southeast Asia after making landfall on November 8 in the Samara province of the Philippines, then traveling through the central part of the country, according to reports. It then made its way into the South China Sea, striking Vietnam, but as a much weaker storm.

It is reported to be the deadliest typhoon to hit the Philippine region, affecting more than 12 million people and leaving many in need of water, food, and medical supplies. To date there are  5,924 victims who lost their lives to the storm, according to published reports.

“In light of such great tragedy, it is heartwarming to see people come together, even from halfway around the world, to dedicate their time and energy to helping those who have lost everything,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “I would like to congratulate NAFCON on their tremendous fundraising to support the relief work in the Philippines and would like to offer my continued support for the rebuilding effort.”

NAFCON is working together with grassroots organizations, consisting of church groups and students, in the Philippines to ensure the money raised will go directly to those who need it the most. Donations can be made here through the NAFCON PayPal account.

 

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Famous Famiglia opens at Jackson Heights subway station


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A new famiglia has come to Jackson Heights.

Famous Famiglia opened its doors on Monday at the subway station on 75th Street and Roosevelt Avenue together with local elected officials, family and friends.

The pizza chain beat out a total of 12 other proposals which vied to call the vacant 4,000-square-foot space home in 2010, after the MTA advertised a new request for proposals. Famous Famiglia won and signed a lease in 2011.

“We are very excited about becoming a part of the Jackson Heights community,” said Paul Kolaj, Famous Famiglia CEO and co-founder. “Even though Famous Famiglia is an internationally successful pizza brand, the Jackson Heights location is especially meaningful to us.”

Kolaj said Queens is important to him and his family, because they first immigrated to the United States through John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1970. The family went on to grow up in the South Bronx and in 1986 launched the business in Manhattan on the Upper West Side.

“The very fabric of America is no more apparent than the diverse cross section that is Queens,” said Kolaj. “We appreciate the partnership and support of the MTA and we look forward to creating dozens of jobs through a successful business in Jackson Heights, and for the opportunity to make our contribution to the local community.”

A month before taking office four years ago, Councilmember Daniel Dromm held his first press conference calling for the MTA to fill the vacant space at the subway station. Now that the pizzeria has finally opened its doors, the councilmember said it will be a significant economic driver to the community and also helps out other local businesses along Roosevelt Avenue.

“This is the hub of Jackson Heights,” said Dromm. “I’m thrilled to see Famous Famiglia finally able to open their doors.”

All sales made on the Monday grand opening will be donated to Elmhurst Hospital’s “Helping Kids Heal” fund, going towards the pediatric center at the hospital.

 

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Jackson Heights, Corona community marches for safer streets after traffic deaths


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

It was the final straw, and now the Jackson Heights and Corona communities are saying no more.

Family members of traffic accident victims, local elected officials and community members gathered Tuesday night to set off the inaugural action known as “Three Children Too Many.”

The group marched down Northern Boulevard, then 82nd Street, stopping to make statements about traffic control and give performances along the way. They then gathered on 79th Street and 37th Avenue to rally and remember young local lives that were cut short.

“You cope with this kind of thing and you feel terrible, sad, angry, but then there’s a tipping point,” said Laura Newman, one of the organizers of the march and resident of Jackson Heights. “We actually have to make it stop.”

Just a month before three-year-old Olvin Jahir Figueroa was fatally struck by an alleged drunk driver, Jackson Heights resident Luis Bravo, 19, lost his life in a hit-and-run in Woodside. In December of last year, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was killed as he tried to cross the street heading to school on Northern Boulevard.

In April Councilmember Daniel Dromm led the push to bring more slow zones to Jackson Heights, focusing on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.

“Three Children Too Many” calls on mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to choose a police commissioner who will make sure law enforcement for vehicular crimes is strongly enforced and demands more traffic calming zones, continued traffic safety education for local children, and action facilitators to lead the community towards greater safety.

“Safety is (Department of Transportation) DOT’s top priority and the agency participated in [Tuesday’s] event to highlight our shared goal of making streets safer for everyone using them,” said DOT spokesperson Nicole Garcia. “We also have been in touch with the local community, including the march’s organizers and elected officials to get feedback, share education materials and discuss ways to enhance safety at this intersection and the surrounding area.”

The agency is also looking at the signal timing at Northern and Junction Boulevards to determine if adjustments can be made, said Garcia.

Michelle L. Kaucic, community coordinator of the DOT’s Safety Education and Outreach, said the community needs to continue advocating for change and must also spread the word of not drinking and driving. The community and DOT need to work together to make the streets safe as possible, said Kaucic.

At the end of the march, participants held a moment of silence and a candlelight vigil honoring Olvin, Luis, Miguel and other victims, as family members spoke.

“Safe streets are not a luxury, it’s what we deserve,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who lost two of her best friends 20 years ago to a fatal traffic accident involving a drunk driver. “After losing several of our mothers, fathers, children and friends to fatal traffic collisions, we simply cannot tolerate to lose one more.”

 

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Jackson Heights plaza to get $500K in enhancements


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

One Jackson Heights plaza is getting a little extra help to fully shine in the community.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm recently announced he will allocate $500,000 in capital funds for enhancements to the 37th Road Pedestrian Plaza known as Diversity Plaza.

“Diversity Plaza has become an integral part of our community,” said Dromm.

“These improvements will go a long way to build out an asset that our community has come to adopt as a town square. Despite its slightly rocky start, this truly is the ‘little plaza that could.’”

The funding will allow the plaza, which is still in its design phase, to include seating, lighting and other features. Other amenities will also include the installment of community maps, guiding residents and visitors to local businesses around the neighborhood.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has also reserved $2 million to provide extra improvements to the plaza, including a public pay toilet, permanent seating and an improved street surface. Later this fall, Dromm’s office and the DOT will set up a meeting at which the public will have the chance to give their opinions on the amenities.

“Diversity Plaza is a result of tremendous community effort, from the intensive transportation planning sessions that developed it, to the efforts of the local merchants and civic groups that are now sustaining it,” said Andy Wiley-Schwarts, Assistant Commissioner for Public Space at the DOT. “We look forward to working with Councilmember Dromm and the Jackson Heights community to build a safe, beautiful public space for generations to enjoy.”

The councilmember also secured $10,000 in discretionary funding to include the services of the Horticultural Society and ACE New York, which will offer a monthly power washing and horticulture care as part of daily maintenance and cleaning services for the plaza. Dromm had already allocated $60,000 to the Doe Fund to clean both the plaza and surrounding area.

The nonprofit organization SUKHI New York was founded to become the plaza partner and take care of maintenance and events.

“We are eager to involve the broader Jackson Heights community in a discussion about what they would like to see on their plaza,” said Shazia Kauser, president and one of the founders of SUKHI New York.

In the past months, the plaza has hosted the first ever open-air community board meeting with Community Board 3 and a series of short films as part of the Queens World Film Festival.

 

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New Jackson Heights metal benches along Northern Boulevard


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Photo Courtesy Councilmember Daniel Dromm

Residents and visitors walking along Northern Boulevard now have 13 new spots to take a break.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm announced he had allocated $7,000 for Community Board 3 (CB3) to remove broken-down wooden benches down Northern Boulevard and replace them with 13 new metal benches as part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) CityBench program.

“The new seating, through the CityBench program, replaced eyesores with benches the community of Jackson Heights can be proud of,” said Dromm.

The new Jackson Heights benches are located along Northern Boulevard between 80th and 90th Street.

“The benches were originally installed in the 1980s at the request of the now defunct Northern Boulevard Merchants Association,” said Giovanna Reid, CB3 district manager. “We decided to replace the benches because they were in severe disrepair and potential hazards. With the installation of the new CityBench, the appearance of Northern Boulevard has significantly improved.”

With the goal to make it easier to walk through the city for people of all ages, in 2011 the DOT launched CityBench, a three year program that would install 1,000 benches throughout the five boroughs. In the past two years, CityBench has installed more than 700 benches.

“CityBench is a pedestrian friendly, community driven program which is helping make Jackson Heights and neighborhoods throughout Queens more livable and walkable,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

 

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Concern over closure of Corona immunization clinic


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THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A move to close two major immunization walk-in clinics has left community members looking for answers.

The City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced it will shutter the Corona Health Center, located at 34-33 Junction Boulevard, and the Tremont Health Center in the Bronx by the end of the month.

Together with community leaders and elected officials, members of District Council 37 (DC 37), a public employee union, rallied last week at City Hall to stop the DOHMH’s plans. Lillian Roberts, executive director of DC 37, called the closings “a threat to public health and safety” and noted they would come right when children are going back to school.

“Parents in this community already have a hard time finding a seat for their children in a real classroom,” said State Senator Jose Peralta. “Now the city wants to make it harder for them to get their kids immunized for school.”

According to Councilmember Daniel Dromm, the Corona Health Center is in the heart of a heavy immigrant community where access to affordable health care is already limited.

“I just can’t believe they are going to close it,” said Dromm. “Elmhurst Hospital is already so overwhelmed and this is only going to add to their burden. It’s a very poor health decision. It’s going to have a devastating effect on the community.”

The walk-in clinics offered children over four years old, teens and adults immunizations for conditions including hepatitis, tetanus, measles, mumps, influenza and rubella.

“The loss of these immunization clinics will not only create a burden for hundreds of New Yorkers who currently rely on their service, but it could also lead to significant public health risks,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras.

After the Corona and Tremont clinics are closed, the Fort Greene Health Center, located at 295 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, will be the only immunization walk-in clinic in New York City offering free and low-cost immunizations.

“This is not a decision that the Department takes lightly,” said the DOHMH in a statement. “While we are reluctant to close clinics, the agency has decided to restructure and consolidate services to preserve essential functions and reduce overall cost of operations, knowing that less than one percent of all vaccinations in New York City occur at our clinics.”

According to the DOHMH, the Fort Greene center will remain open five days a week, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and there are still 50 primary providers in the Bronx and 22 in Queens that provide free or low-cost immunizations.

The DOHMH also said no staff will be laid off as a result of the closings.

Peralta and Dromm have each sent letters of opposition to the department’s plans to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and DOHMH Commissioner Thomas Farley.

 

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MTA poll looks at reopening Elmhurst LIRR station


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Rosa Kim

BY ROSA KIM

Transit officials are surveying Elmhurst residents to determine the viability of reopening the shuttered LIRR station at Broadway.

The station, between Cornish and Whitney Avenues, closed in 1985 due to a decrease in ridership, officials said.

But since then, the community’s residential and commercial population has increased.

“When this station closed, people thought Elmhurst was done and over with,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “Now, we’re seeing the revitalization of this community.”

Congressmember Joseph Crowley said reopening the station would spur economic growth and modernize the city.

“Reopening the Elmhurst station would increase residents’ access to both midtown Manhattan as well as Long Island,” he said. “It would help create jobs and provide an economic boost to many small businesses in the community.”

The mail-in survey asks residents within a half-mile radius of the station 10 questions to gauge potential ridership.

The questions cover how often respondents travel to Manhattan, how they usually get there and their likelihood of choosing to ride via LIRR.

Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul White said the station would bring first-rate transit service to Elmhurst.

If the Elmhurst LIRR station existed, commuters could expect a travel time of 15-16 minutes to get to Penn Station during morning peak hours, according to MTA spokesperson Salvatore Arena.

Officials expect the fare during peak hours would be around $8, and $5.75 during off-peak hours.

The review process of the potential $30 million project began last year with a walking tour of the neighborhood and a town hall meeting where the response was “tremendous,” according to MTA LIRR president Helena Williams.

“There are many issues that need to be carefully evaluated as part of this process, but the response has been positive so far,” she said.

The MTA expects to have a good sense of potential ridership by the end of the year, though no decisions will be made until 2015, Williams said.

 

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Queens LGBT community speaks about fighting anti-gay crime


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A string of hate crimes toward openly gay people throughout the city have left members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community disturbed and looking for answers.

“We had hoped that it had quieted down,” said Anne Quashen, president of the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Queens Chapter. “It seems that the snake has raised its ugly head again.”

On May 18, Mark Carson was fatally shot by a man who let out anti-gay remarks toward Carson and his friend as they walked in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Just a week later, a gay couple was verbally attacked and punched by two men as they walked in SoHo.

“We need a lot more discussions in the schools about why it’s wrong to attack people for any reason, especially if they are part of the LGBT community,” said openly gay Councilmember Daniel Dromm.

Both Quashen and Dromm believe it is important to educate children at an early age and also inform the community on why such crimes are not acceptable.

“People that are in the LGBT community are all part of the same big family,” said Quashen. “They are part of the same community and we have to take care of one another.”

In response to the series of hate crimes, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council’s LGBT Caucus announced they will be hosting free self-defense training across the city.
“These classes will empower men and women who might otherwise feel helpless at times when our city is experiencing an increase in attacks against our LGBT brothers and sisters,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “No one should be persecuted or attacked for who they are or who they are perceived to be.

The first class, led by the Center for Anti-Violence Prevention, will take place on June 8 at the LGBT Center in Manhattan. Additional classes in Queens will be announced in the upcoming weeks. To reserve a space, you can call 212-788-5613 or email events@council.ny.gov.

 

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Queens holds 21st Pride Parade


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THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Colorful flags and smiling faces were filled with pride as they took to the streets in Jackson Heights to celebrate the borough’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community.

On June 2, elected officials, supporters and members of the LGBTQ community from throughout the city gathered for the 21st Queens Pride Parade and Multicultural Festival hosted by the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee.

“In light of the recent hate crimes, we are sending a clear message that we are never going back in the closet and we have a lot to celebrate,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm, who helped found the parade in 1993.

Dromm was joined by fellow openly gay colleagues Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Van Bramer was the first elected official in the borough to get married after New York legalized same-sex marriage.

“It was really supported by the community,” said Dromm. “Parents brought their kids, and on all sides of the parade route people were clapping and cheering.”

The parade, which kicked off at 85th Street and 37th Avenue, is the second-largest LGBTQ pride celebration in New York.

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE PRIDE PARADE

The grand marshals for this year’s parade included openly gay pro boxer Orlando Cruz and PRYDE, the LGBTQ Justice Project of Make the Road NY.

The festival, which drew protesters decades ago, now brings thousands of onlookers who shout positive reactions and showed their full support.

“People are waving, there is a happy atmosphere going down 37th Avenue,” said Anne Quashen, president of the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Queens Chapter. “You don’t feel any animosity or any hatred, you feel a community coming together.”

Participants marching in the parade ranged from cheerleaders with Cheer New York to four-legged supporters who marched and waved their tails alongside the bright rainbow flags.

“This is my first time at the parade and it’s such a unique experience,” said Nestor Rojas, 24, of Jackson Heights. “It’s really great to see so many people get together and just accept one another.”

 

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