Tag Archives: Councilmember Daniel Dromm

East Elmhurst gets slow zone


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Johann Hamilton

East Elmhurst residents are able to cross a little easier.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Department of Transportation (DOT) Queens Borough Deputy Commissioner Dalila Hall announced the East Elmhurst Slow Zone as part of the DOT’s Neighborhood Slow Zone initiative last week.

The DOT’s initiative is a community-based program that reduces the speed limit to 20 mph in order to increase pedestrian safety. The new slow zone — the sixth to be implemented in New York City and the second in the borough — will also look to lower the amount of traffic going through the neighborhood.

Dromm proposed the East Elmhurst Slow Zone to DOT last year in response to concerns he heard from the community.

“I am very pleased we were able to collaborate with the Department of Transportation to increase the safety of pedestrians in East Elmhurst,” he said. “These measures will make it safer for everybody, but especially for seniors and children, to walk through the neighborhood.”

The slow zone covers the area from Astoria Boulevard to 31st Avenue and from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to 82nd Street.

“Local neighborhoods streets are not highways, they are not short cuts — they are where we live,” said Hall. “Our residential streets need to be designed for this human scale, and by simply reducing the speed of passing cars by 10 miles per hour, we can save lives as we make the streets where people live more inviting and safer.”

The slow zone will also include important traffic calming features such as narrowing streets by instituting parking lanes and creating a painted median in the middle of 30th Avenue. DOT has also constructed speed bumps in the area, posted more signs with the new 20 mph speed limit and pushed street parking away from intersections in order to create a larger field of vision for motorists.

“It’s worth it because more precautions mean more lives saved,” said East Elmhurst resident Michelle Gomez, 39. “Although it might not be followed at first, it can always be enforced by the police.”

Later this month, Dromm will propose the creation of the Jackson Heights Slow Zone, projected to stretch from 69th Street to 87th Street between Roosevelt Avenue and Northern Boulevard.

With additional reporting by Johann Hamilton

 

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Jackson Heights park to be renamed in tribute to beloved student


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton

Those who knew Rory Staunton say it would be a fitting tribute.

The newly-acquired Parks Department property at the Garden School athletic field in Jackson Heights may soon bear his name. The 12-year-old lost his life last April due to sepsis poisoning after falling while playing basketball in his school’s gym. What doctors believed to be a minor wound later became infected and led to his death.

Rory was a student at the Garden School. Although he lived in Sunnyside with his father Ciaran, mother Orlaith and sister Kathleen, he loved to help out in the Jackson Heights community. He enjoyed working side by side with his dad, a board member of the Garden School. Ciaran Staunton was one of the main individuals who pushed for the field to be used as a park instead of developing it into a 10-story apartment building.

After hearing from the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, Councilmember Daniel Dromm and other elected officials, Community Board 3 on April 18 voted unanimously to have the field renamed after Rory.

The proposal was inspired by the hard work the boy and his father did to help save the park for future generations.

“We as a group felt it was fitting to name it after Rory,” said Dudley Stewart, president of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance. “The community board vote was a huge relief. It was great to recognize that the community stands behind this proposal. We felt really gratified and very happy.”

Ciaran Staunton said his son helped draw up the plans for the park before he passed away. The father added that Rory was “very green” and always tried to do what was right.

“Our family is very honored,” he said. “It’s a comforting feeling they [children] will be playing in Rory Staunton field for their whole lives.”

Ciaran Staunton recalled an invitation to the White House for St. Patrick’s Day last year. He took his son, who was inspired by the trip to the president’s home.

“He was eyeing the office for himself,” Staunton said.

Since the boy’s passing, the Staunton family has worked hard to raise awareness of sepsis. Governor Andrew Cuomo dubbed legislation to fight sepsis Rory’s Regulations.

Even with all the support they have received for renaming the park, the Stauntons still have to wait for the Parks Department to give official approval.

“It would be fit to honor him in such a way,” said Dromm. “He was only 12 years old [but] had a tremendous impact on the community.”

The Parks Department did not respond to calls as of press time.

 

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Abandoned Jackson Heights cemetery may become park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

They’re looking to turn it from a final resting place to a place where children play.

Hidden away from the public, Leverich Cemetery in Jackson Heights was once part of a family-owned farm land passed down through generations. But at one point the farm was bequeathed with the cemetery plot no longer included.

The 17th century cemetery presently has no owner. It remains on 35th Avenue near Leverich Street. Through the years, homes and stores have sprung up around the site, which today bears no grave markings.

To make use of the abandoned land, Edwin Westley, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, has come up with the idea of turning the cemetery into a small park.

According to Jackson Heights historian Daniel Karatzas, most residents have no idea the cemetery exists and it has become a dumping ground with no one looking after it.

“I think it [a park] would be a great asset to the community,” said Karatzas.

Yet, due to the land’s hard-to-reach location behind stores, Councilmember Daniel Dromm is concerned with security because of a lack of immediate police surveillance.

“It does not really intend itself to that purpose,” said Dromm. “It is an interesting idea but there are several concerns that I do have with it. One of them is that the cemetery is a cemetery and you can’t have people tramping over dead bodies.”

Instead, Dromm said he wants to see the plot, now covered in garbage, including an old washing machine, half a motorcycle and full of stray cats, cleaned.

Fearing it poses a health hazard, Dromm plans to organize a community cleanup.

“We are definitely going to clean it up, because no one wants to take responsibility for it,” said Dromm.

 

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Push for slow zones in Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo By Angy Altamirano

In December, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was struck and killed as he tried to cross the street on Northern Boulevard.

Now, leaders in Jackson Heights are calling for a slow zone to prevent more deaths.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm is leading the push that would lower the speed limit in the neighborhood from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour on specific streets to stop drivers who speed through.

Last year, the councilmember applied to have a slow zone between 74th Street and 86th Street, from 37th Avenue up to Northern Boulevard. The application was denied by the Department of Transportation (DOT), as Northern Boulevard cannot be part of the slow zone because it is considered a major arterial traffic way, said Dromm.

But now Dromm hopes to reapply and focus on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.

“There is a very big problem in Jackson Heights on those side streets,” said Dromm. “We have to change the mentality of drivers that when they are coming into such a congested area, you aren’t going to get in and out fast. You need to slow down, calm down and take it easy.”

About two weeks ago, on the corner of 81st Street and 35th Avenue, a pedestrian was struck in a hit-and-run accident when a car was making a left turn. Another pedestrian was hit on 82nd Street and Northern Boulevard and is in critical condition.

Edwin Westley, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, said he is working with Dromm to bring the slow zone to the neighborhood.

“We need it for two reasons, one is the number of senior citizens in the neighborhood and the other reason is there are a large number of schools in the area,” Westley said.

A slow zone in East Elmhurst, on 25th Avenue from 69th to 83rd Street, was approved by the DOT and is nearly completed.

“Northern Boulevard needs to be a safe environment considering just how many schools sit right along it throughout Jackson Heights and into Corona,” said Serhan Ayhan, 26, a Jackson Heights resident. “We shouldn’t be playing a game of chicken waiting until a student is hurt while crossing the street to implement safer policies.”

Along with the slow zones, Dromm also hopes to implement other traffic measures including bike racks and extended curbs to get drivers to slow down. He is also working with the NYPD for additional enforcement on the north and south ends of Northern Boulevard to decrease fatalities and hit-and-runs.

The DOT did not respond as of press time.

 

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Arrest in murder of Queens school teacher


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Police have arrested a man for the murder of a public school teacher found strangled to death in his Jackson Heights home earlier this year.

Cecil Golden, 20, of the Bronx, has been charged with first-degree murder and criminal possession of stolen property, said the NYPD.

According to published reports, 53-year-old David Rangel, who was killed on January 27, may have met his murder online.

Following the homicide of Rangel and another Queens gay man in early February,  Councilmember Daniel Dromm and community leaders held a press conference to bring awareness to the dangers of online dating, especially in the LGBT community.

UPDATE: 

Police announced early Thursday morning that a second person has been arrested for the homicide of David Rangel.

Elijah Agyepong, 19, of the Bronx, has been charged with first-degree murder.

 

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Meat workers picket Trade Fair Supermarket


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Fighting for a fair contract and against unfair labor practices, workers in the meat department, who are members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 342, picketed in front of all nine Trade Fair supermarkets on Wednesday, March 13.

The strike began at 7 a.m. and workers were met with angry reactions from the store managers. According to the union, workers also faced verbal altercations and few assaults during their strike, with cops called several times.

The strike comes a day after four workers from a Trade Fair Supermarket located on 75-07 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights joined Kate Meckler, communications director of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 342 at Councilmember Daniel Dromm’s office to continue to raise awareness of their struggles.

The four union workers, along with 100 other union members who work in the meat department at the nine Trade Fair Supermarket locations have been distributing leaflets and collected hundreds of signatures from residents in the community as the contract negotiations with the company have gone sour since the previous contract expired in October.

According to Meckler, Trade Fair is proposing to cut the workers’ hours, destroy their health benefits, freeze wages and take away their Sunday premium pay.

“Why are they taking this away from us?” said Miguel Urena, who has worked for the company for six years. “It is not fair that they take us to part-time.”

Turning all their full-time meat department workers into part-time workers would ultimately lead the workers to looking for a second job to support their families, said Meckler.

“Nobody responds for our lives,” said Maria Aguirre, a worker at Trade Fair for 10 years.

Along with the refusal to meet contract negotiations, the company owner is also being accused of treating workers with disrespect and putting their live in danger with exits being blocked most of the time. According to the union, workers are also intimidated by “Help Wanted” ads and posters found throughout the store.

“The company’s owner and management have created an atmosphere that is driven by intimidation and fear,” said Meckler. “The workers will not stand for the abuse any longer.”

Meckler also said the union has a video on YouTube showing management the treating workers horribly and getting angry after finding out they had been leafleting while off the clock and during their lunch breaks.

Trade Fair Supermarket did not immediately comment.

 

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Jackson Heights to get new park space


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Just in time for spring, Jackson Heights residents have been given new park space to enjoy.

Last March, the city announced its purchase of the athletic field at the Garden School, a private learning facility, which, combined with Travers Park, located across the street from the school, will offer the community a larger recreational space.

“Jackson Heights is one of the most densely-populated and diverse neighborhoods in New York City, and one most in need of parkland for its community,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White.

As of last week, NYC Parks and the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Service had completed the $6 million acquisition of the 24,600-square-foot asphalt play yard owned by the school.

The settlement with the Garden School comes as the city follows its goal of developing original methods to increase residents’ access to neighborhood open spaces. As of 2007, 229 “Schoolyards to Playgrounds” sites have been opened to the public as part of the Bloomberg administration’s PlaNYC initiative. Yet, this is the first time the city has created an agreement with a private school.

“Working with the city was terrific,” said Arthur Gruen, president of the Board of Trustees, and Richard Marotta, headmaster of the Garden School. “We are very pleased to join with our community in establishing this permanent open space for our Garden School family and for all of our neighbors.”

The new parkland will be available for public use outside school hours, including weekend and summer months, with the ball field open for baseball and softball leagues during these times.

“Every New Yorker should have access to adequate parks and recreational opportunities,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “The residents of Jackson Heights deserve this.”

As part of the agreement, the Garden School is receiving a five-year lease agreement for the exclusive use of the property during the school year between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. At all other times, NYC Parks will manage the site as a public park.

NYC Parks plans to install a property line fence separating the site being acquired from the remaining Garden School property. A final design for the property will be developed and once completed, will be accessible to the public from 78th to 79th Streets.

 

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Quinn announces free legal services for immigrants


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Starting October 1, 30 locations throughout the five boroughs will offer free legal services for immigrants.

“Thousands of immigrants who contribute to our economy, our culture, our city are often unable to pursue full citizenship because of prohibitive legal costs,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who announced the services  Monday.

Quinn, who was joined by Council Committee on Immigration Chair Daniel Dromm and Committee on Finance Chair Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., said that the confidential, quality counseling will help those applying for green cards, deferred action and U.S. citizenship, and with other legal services.

The City Council secured $600,000 in funding for the program and has partnered with CUNY Citizenship Now!, which already provides free legal services for immigrants at six full-time centers and one part-time.

The program that launches next month will offer weekly or monthly access to lawyers at Council district offices over the next year.

“By placing attorneys in Council district offices where the need for reliable legal services are most needed, Citizenship Now! will have a tremendous impact on our immigrant communities.  These services are desperately needed and CUNY Citizenship Now! is extremely well equipped to provide them,” said Dromm.

Seven offices in Queens will have weekly free services, including Dromm’s  Jackson Heights office, and two will have them monthly.

Queens Council district offices with weekly services:

James F. Gennaro
185-10 Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows, 718-217-4969

Daniel Dromm
37-32 75th Street, Jackson Heights, 718-803-6373

Ruben Wills
95-26 Sutphin Boulevard, Jamaica, 718-206-2068

Julissa Ferreras
32-33A Junction Boulevard, East Elmhurst, 718-651-1917

Leroy Comrie
113-43 Farmers Boulevard, Albans, 718-776-3700

Eric Ulrich
93-06 101st Avenue, Ozone Park, 718-738-1083

Peter Koo
135-27 38 Avenue, Suite 388, Flushing, 718-888-8747

Queens Council district offices with monthly services:

Daniel J. Halloran
166-08 24th Road, Whitestone, 718-631-6703

Karen Koslowitz
118-35 Queens Boulevard, 17th Floor, Forest Hills, 718-544-8800

 

For a full list of locations, visit www.council.nyc.gov/immigration.

 

Jackson Heights to get more park space


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

2754538308_f4f8749bd2_bw

Officials and civic groups from Jackson Heights, a neighborhood parched for play space, have persuaded the city to purchase a school yard and turn it into a park.

The Jackson Heights Green Alliance, along with the help of Councilmember Daniel Dromm and the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, acquired a 2,600-square-foot patch of asphalt from the Garden School, nearly doubling the area’s amount of park space.

“Jackson Heights has a critical shortage of park space,” said Dudley Stewart, president of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance. “It is dramatically underserved.”

When the Jackson Heights Green Alliance discovered the Garden School was looking to sell its lot to a private developer in February 2011, it stepped up and threw in a bid. Shortly after, the Grow a Park Campaign formed, fighting for open space in the neighborhood. With monetary assistance from private foundations and nearly half a million dollars in pledges, the group purchased the Garden School’s lot.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm has eyed the spot for a possible park ever since Jackson Heights was ranked second to last in park space out of the 51 council districts citywide in a New Yorkers for Parks study published in 2009.

“I feel it’s a promise fulfilled,” said Dromm. “When I came into office I immediately began to think about how to create more green space. I promised the community we would have to think out of the box.”

This newly-bought space is adjacent to 78th Street Play Street – a car-free zone open for play during the summer months. For the fourth year in a row, 78th Street between 34th Avenue and Northern Boulevard will be transformed into an open area for kids and adults alike.

“It’s almost double the space between the lot and the play street,” said Stewart. “It’s a huge benefit. It’s not just for families with kids, it’s for the entire community.”

The Jackson Heights Green Alliance recently won the Department of Transportation’s public plaza program which designs and constructs permanent, year-round parks. According to Stewart, this marks the first time in the program’s history that the grant has been awarded to a civic group rather than a Business Improvement District.

Stewart says the next step is to install a fence around the space so the public can access it freely. During school hours, the Garden School will retain exclusive access. During the rest of the year, it will be open to the entire community.

“We hope it’s going to be great,” said Stewart. “We’ve got our fingers crossed.”

Truck driver arrested after allegedly assaulting Councilmember Daniel Dromm


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Daniel Dromm

While it is generally positive for officials to personally engage themselves in community issues, one councilmember’s involvement landed him as the victim of an assault.

Around noon on Wednesday, May 30, as Councilmember Daniel Dromm drove his car through Jackson Heights on the way back to his office, he saw an 18-wheel truck from National Farm double-parked, blocking traffic on 37th Avenue outside Trade Fair supermarket. Dromm said the truck driver was nowhere in sight, and he began snapping photos of the vehicle on his cell phone.

Upon seeing Dromm, the driver allegedly ran from around the truck and charged at him, repeatedly yelling, “no pictures!” before ripping the phone from his hand, striking him in the jaw and punching him in the chest.

Dromm said he yelled for help and was heard by workers in Congressmember Joseph Crowley’s nearby office, who then called the police. Dromm requested his cell phone back from the driver, identifying himself as an elected official. The driver refused to return it.

According to Dromm, when the police arrived they questioned the driver, identified by the district attorney’s office as John J Muriel. Muriel admitted he had Dromm’s phone, but would not say how he came to possess it.

Trade Fair manager Victor Fuentes was in the store when the incident took place, but alleged that he did not see anything when he went outside. Fuentes also said he has never had a problem like this in the past.

According to the DA, Muriel was arrested for assault in the third degree, petit larceny, criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree and harassment in the second degree.

According to the councilmember, an ongoing Jackson Heights study, instituted three years ago, began looking at traffic issues including congestion, parking and numbers of pedestrians. The study involved around 500 people – more than had ever been engaged in a traffic study before in New York City. Dromm stated he wanted to add the photos of the poorly-parked truck to the study, furthering the public’s awareness of vehicular issues in the neighborhood.

“It’s a combination of all these things that have happened here,” said Dromm. “Things have gotten out of control. We’re going to stand up and say ‘enough is enough.’ We expect people who drive through and park in this neighborhood to abide by the law. That’s the minimal expectation. Blatant disregard for the law affects the quality of life here in the neighborhood.”

National Farm could not be reached for comment as of press time, and attempts to reach a Legal Aid attorney for Muriel were unsuccessful.

 

Maspeth street renamed for former NYPD detective


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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A Maspeth street was renamed for a former police officer who passed away last year from the after effects of working at Ground Zero.

Kevin Czartoryski, who died in 2010 at 46, was honored on Sunday, April 29 with the renaming of the street he lived on when he passed.  He suffered from pulmonary fibrosis.

Fifty ninth road off 60th Street in Maspeth will now be known as Detective Kevin Czartoryski Place.

Hundreds of friends, family, co-workers and elected officials attended the ceremony and spoke lovingly of the former police officer.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Senator Chuck Schumer, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Assemblymembers Cathy Nolan and Grace Meng, State Senator Joe Addabbo and Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley, Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer attended the renaming.

 

Will trains run in Elmhurst LIRR Station again?


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Congressmember Joe Crowley

Two local legislators are hoping Elmhurst residents will soon be “all aboard.”

Congressmember Joe Crowley and Councilmember Daniel Dromm joined MTA LIRR President Helena Williams on March 15 for a walking tour of the Elmhurst Station, which was closed and partially demolished in 1985. The officials are hoping the LIRR will consider reconstructing and reopening the station, located on Broadway between Cornish and Whitney Avenues, in order to service the consistently-growing Elmhurst population.

“Reopening the Elmhurst Station will increase residents’ access to Midtown, help create jobs in the community, and provide an economic boost to the many small businesses in the area. It will also open the door for all New Yorkers to experience the rich diversity and culture Elmhurst has to offer,” Crowley said. “I look forward to holding further discussions with my constituents, community groups, and LIRR about this issue as well as additional ways we can help Elmhurst grow and thrive.”

Williams said reopening the Elmhurst Station is a legitimate possibility, due to planned renovations of the Broadway Bridge – which is next to the old station and would ensure the structural support needed for a new center – and projects in Port Washington and Great Neck that will allow the LIRR to add more trains. She went on to say the station would include two 12-car platforms, staircase and elevator access, platform shelters, an audio-visual paging system, security cameras and ticket vending machines, and would cost at least $30 million.

Following the tour, the legislators and LIRR representatives discussed the subsequent steps in the reopening review process, including a ridership survey conducted by the MTA. Dromm and Crowley have also scheduled a town hall meeting on April 11.

The original station, which was a part of the Port Washington Branch commuter rail line, aided Elmhurst in growing by providing residents with direct access to Midtown Manhattan. It was reportedly closed due to a decrease in ridership following significant changes to train schedules.

“Restoring service to Elmhurst on the LIRR is vitally important for the development of Elmhurst and the surrounding areas here in Queens,” said Dromm. “By linking its residents to Manhattan, we are effectively spurring the job creation and economic growth necessary for communities like Elmhurst to flourish. We are encouraged by the initial talks with MTA LIRR President Helena Williams and I look forward to taking the next steps towards reopening a station that will burst open the doors for one of the world’s most diverse and vibrant neighborhoods.”

Will LIRR roll again in Elmhurst?


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


Local elected officials are hoping the LIRR rolls back into Elmhurst – allowing residents to ride the rails again after roughly three decades.

Congressmember Joe Crowley and Councilmember Daniel Dromm have called on the MTA LIRR to reopen its Elmhurst Station, located on Broadway between Cornish and Whitney Avenues, which was closed in 1985.

“Reopening the Elmhurst Station will go a long way toward revitalizing the Elmhurst community and growing Queens’ economy,” said Crowley. “This is more than an investment in improving residents’ commutes; it’s about making Elmhurst a destination for all New Yorkers and visitors. Councilmember Dromm and I are joining forces in calling on the LIRR to join us in making this idea a reality. The truth is Elmhurst residents already endure the noise and inconvenience of a train running through their neighborhood, why shouldn’t they enjoy the benefits of it becoming an integral part of the neighborhood?”

The Elmhurst Station, which was a stop on the Port Washington Branch commuter rail line, provided Elmhurst and East Elmhurst residents direct passage to Midtown Manhattan. The station was reportedly closed down due to a decrease in ridership after significant schedule changes made it unappealing to commuters.

“Restoring service to Elmhurst on the Long Island Railroad is vitally important for the development of Elmhurst and the surrounding areas here in Queens” said Dromm. “By linking its residents to Manhattan, we are effectively spurring the job creation and economic growth necessary for communities like Elmhurst to flourish. The reopening of this station is something that will be a boon to all New Yorkers as it would burst opens the doors to one of the world’s most diverse and vibrant neighborhoods.”

Crowley and Dromm recently co-wrote a letter to Helena Williams, the president of the LIRR, in an effort to coax the rail road to reutilize the station.

“The LIRR has been invited to meet with Congressmember Crowley and we look forward to the opportunity to discuss the growth in the Elmhurst community,” said LIRR spokesperson Salvatore Arena.

Community leaders also appear in favor of the station’s revival, echoing the elected officials’ claims of likely economic growth.

“The Elmhurst and Newtown community are eager to see the restoration of the Elmhurst LIRR station,” said Robert Valdes Clausell, director and treasurer of the Newton Civic Association. “Doing so will increase transit options for residents and help spur economic and residential development.”

Campaign cash filling coffers


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


If forced to go to “war,” Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. would have the funds to flaunt the biggest arsenal in Queens.
According to recent filings with the city’s Campaign Finance Board, Vallone has a current balance of more than $850,000 — after receiving contributions totaling $1,049,819 — placing him first among the council’s Queens delegation.

“I’m really humbled by the amount of borough-wide support I have,” said the councilmember. “As you can see by the numbers of other elected officials, raising money is very difficult to do. To have this kind of support is really humbling.”

Despite Vallone’s affection for his city council position, he admits he has grander aspirations.

“I would love to stay as a councilmember,” he said. “It is a gratifying position, and it is the closest position to the people. But with term limits, if I want to stay in public service, I have to look at other positions. I am taking a serious look at borough president in two years.”
Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley and Mark Weprin are a distant second and third on the list, with balances of $92,114 and $90,627 respectively.
Crowley, like Vallone and numerous other Queens politicians, filed in the “undeclared” category, allowing for fundraising for city-wide and borough-wide offices, as well as re-election to their council seats.

“I take my responsibility to serve my constituents and the City of New York in the council very seriously, and my recent filing shows I have strong support within the community to continue my work,” Crowley said. “I look forward to years of continuing this service and am optimistic about the future.”
Weprin, who is rumored to be interested in the Council Speaker spot once Christine Quinn’s term has ended, says he has raised most of his money in the past six months.
“I’m running for re-election in 2013, so I’m raising money to make sure I am fully prepared to run,” Weprin said. “I’m enjoying my time in the council, and I hope my constituents think I have been doing a good job. I am just trying to prepare early because I believe it is good to be armed from early on. It is way too early to discuss leadership in the City Council. First I have to be re-elected.”

 

District 26 Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer is fourth, raising $70,230 and spending $39,279.

Despite filing under the “undeclared category,” Van Bramer says he plans to run only for re-election of his council seat.
“I am really grateful for all of the support that I have been shown by people who believe in the work that I am doing,” he said. “I have heard my name bandied about for other things, and I find that flattering. But I really love my job, and I fully expect to continue doing that. For me, [filing under “undeclared”] is meaningless.”
Councilmember Dan Halloran ranks seventh – behind Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Julissa Ferreras – with a remainder of $6,463.

Halloran also filed “undeclared,” fueling speculation that he may have plans to make a run at Senator Tony Avella’s seat.

Jackson Heights community rallies against Trade Fair


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Daniel Dromm

The Jackson Heights community is fed up with a local supermarket’s “un-Fair” procedures.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm and neighborhood residents united on January 17 in front of Trade Fair, a supermarket located at 75-07 37th Avenue, to protest the grocer’s persistent violations of city laws and regulations.

“Trade Fair’s violations have created an unsafe environment for the Jackson Heights community and ruined the appearance of the neighborhood to the detriment of both residents and fellow business owners,” said Dromm. “We are demanding that Trade Fair do right by our neighborhood.”

Among the residents’ premier demands are for Trade Fair to cease in placing bins of broken glass near their recycling area, restore a tree pit in front of the market which they filled with cement, and comply with a partial vacate order for an enclosure obstructing the sidewalk on 75th Street.

In August of last year, Trade Fair was ordered to vacate from an illegal extension on the side of their property. When the grocer failed to follow the command, the Environment Control Board (ECB) issued a violation.

Jackson Heights community organizations echoed Dromm’s complaints – emphasizing the supermarket’s lack of respect for the neighborhood.

“Trade Fair supermarket is a serial sidewalk abuser,” said Edwin Westley, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group. “In each of their Jackson Heights locations on 37th Avenue, they have expanded their storage spaces by our sidewalk space. They are not good neighbors as demonstrated by their lack of respect for pedestrians. This is a clear violation and needs to be stopped now.”

Neighborhood residents admit that Trade Fair is a fine supermarket, but demand that the store’s selfish behavior cease if they are to continue to shop there.

“We have a great neighborhood here and most everyone works to make it better,” said Tom Lowenhaupt, a resident of 75th Street who attended the rally. “Trade Fair runs a good store but they can’t keep straight what’s theirs and what belongs to the public. They have a take, take, take policy when it comes to the areas adjacent to their stores. They constantly push the boundary and test what they can get away with. That’s not being neighborly. Ease off or face a boycott.”

Despite the community’s allegations, Victor Fuentes, the manager of Trade Fair, says the supermarket has done nothing wrong.

“[The owners] are currently in the process of getting a permit for the extension they are building,” Fuentes said. “It is a little on the sidewalk, but there is plenty of room to walk. There is no broken glass in the recycled area. As soon as we are aware of broken glass, we clean it up right away. The tree is in the unloading area, so when the trucks backed out they knocked the tree down. We called the city to replace it, but it kept getting knocked down. Eventually, the city stopped coming. And when it rains or snows, the water gets in the hole where the tree goes and it stinks. Residents complained about the smell, so we filled the hole with cement to stop the problem.”