Tag Archives: Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

Sunnyside Gardens residents don’t want aluminum house in neighborhood

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Renderings courtesy of Campani and Schwarting Architects

Sunnyside Gardens residents and local officials are saying no to an aluminum exhibition house and residential development looking for a new site to call home.

The Aluminaire House – an all-aluminum, historic home built in 1931 for a New York City exhibition – is proposed to be relocated to the corner of 39th Avenue and 50th Street in the landmarked district of Sunnyside Gardens. The house would be surrounded by an eight-unit apartment building which property owner Harry Otterman is also looking to construct.

Although architects Michael Schwarting and Frances Campani of Campani and Schwarting Architects, who run the Aluminaire House Foundation, believe the house would be a “positive contribution to the cultural milieu of the historic district,” many of those opposed say the structure is out of character with the neighborhood’s brick homes.

“The Aluminaire House is wrong for our neighborhood and quite frankly the town housing is all inconsistent with the historic district,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who lives in the area.

“The consistency in the colors and in the materials is essential to what creates that sense of place, and while the Aluminaire House is terrific and interesting, it is not the right neighborhood [for it].”

The nearly 23’ wide by 29’ deep aluminum house was dismantled and is currently in storage on Long Island. If constructed in Sunnyside Gardens, it would serve as a museum and gallery open to the public.

Yet, many residents do not believe a museum is appropriate for the area and would only promote vandalism.

The Sunnyside Gardens property was previously used as an outdoor nursery and playground, one of the few Depression Era play areas left in the city. The property was sold in 2007 after it became a part of the historic district. Residents hope to bring the park back to life to be used by future generations.

“The playground has been used by the community for generations, just as it was intended, and it can continue to serve for the community as a play area and community garden,” said Herbert Reynolds of the Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance.  “It [the Aluminaire House] would deserve a far better future with more forethought than to force it upon our neighborhood where it’s not only out of place, but it’s simply unwanted by the great majority of our neighbors.”

The City’s Historic Districts Council met with Campani and Schwarting Architects on September 12 and did not support the plan. On September 19, Community Board 2 voted against the proposal to bring both the Aluminaire house and the residential development to the neighborhood stating it “contrasts to the surrounding community.”

Although the opposition from the community has been heard, Schwarting said they are still looking to bring the Aluminaire House to the area and will wait to see what the Landmarks Preservation Commission decides on October 15.

“We understand the community is concerned, but I feel that everyone had already made up their mind and I was not able to convince them that this will be a very positive contribution to the neighborhood visually and culturally,” said Schwarting. “It will not be an ugly duckling that everyone is worried about once it is there. We will see what Landmarks thinks.”


LaGuardia Community College Library gets an upgrade

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Rendering courtesy LaGuardia Community College

LaGuardia Community College’s library is getting a modern update to provide students and faculty with more room to research and learn.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with students and school administration on Thursday, September 19 to announce he had secured $2 million in funds to renovate and update the first floor of the institute’s library. The funding will improve the space and also bring an open plan to give faculty and students better access.

“LaGuardia Community College has continued to play a tremendous role in the lives of countless New York City residents for over four decades,” said Van Bramer. “By investing in LaGuardia’s infrastructure [it] will provide students and faculty with a state-of-the-art facility that will expand the availability of educational resources offered at the library.”

During the renovations, which are expected to be completed by the fall of 2016, 17,000 square feet of the library’s 31,000-square-foot first floor will be rebuilt and the remaining space will be upgraded.

Students and faculty will be able to walk through a new entrance into an open space where natural light will be allowed to shine into the building.

Among the upgrades and renovations are expanded circulation, reference and periodical areas. There will also be a new 1,600-square-foot information commons to help visitors access information with printed materials and technology. The library will also feature four brand new 800-square-foot open study rooms and a 450-square-foot meeting room. Two new 1,200-square-foot access computer labs will be added to the current 750-square-foot lab.

“The renovation of the first floor will be a great gift for our students, who have always used the library and depend on us for help, resources and study spaces,” said Jane Devine, LaGuardia’s chief librarian.

“This is a wonderful way for us to say to them, ‘thank you for your support.’”

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer



Sunnyside street co-named for Queens basketball coach Jerry Ingenito

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Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

Jerry Ingenito devoted his life to young players off and on the basketball court, and now his name will forever live on in one of the many communities where he coached.

Family and residents joined Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer on Saturday, September 21 to celebrate and honor the life of Ingenito, who coached young basketball players in the borough for more than 30 years, by co-naming the intersection of 38th Street and Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside “Jerry Ingenito Way.”

Ingenito coached at Saint Raphael’s Catholic Youth Organization in Sunnyside, Christ the King in Middle Village and Queens College in Flushing. His dedication to his career has helped influence the beginning stages of present and past NBA players including Lamar Odom, Craig “Speedy” Claxton, Derrick Phelps and Khalid Reeves.

Along with the street co-naming, Ingenito has been honored in other different venues since his passing in January. The Sunnyside/Woodside Boys and Girls Club named a summer basketball league at St. Theresa School in Woodside after Ingenito and the Bruns Summer basketball camp in Garden City offers two scholarships in his honor for young players from Sunnyside. The Cathedral High School summer camp, where Ingenito was a founder and director, also offers a scholarship in his honor.



New state-of-the-art school facility opens in Long Island City

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THE COURIER/Photo By Angy Altamirano

The students of Long Island City’s P.S./I.S. 78 will now have a new place to learn and grow.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott met with local elected officials, parents, students and school leaders on September 12 to cut the ribbon on the new, state-of-the-art building, located at 46-08 5th Street, which will house P.S./I.S. 78 and P.S. 277-The Riverview School. The facility opened for the first day of school on September 9 and will serve a total of 578 students.

“This building offers P.S./I.S. 78 a state-of-the-art facility for the school to grow and prepare students for the older grades and for college and a career,” said Walcott.

P.S./I.S. 78 is expanding from its original site at 48-09 Center Boulevard, only a few blocks. Grades pre-kindergarten through second will remain at the original spot and students in third to sixth grades will move to the new facility, which later will include seventh and eighth grades.
P.S. 277 is a District 75 school serving special education students.

“We are delighted with the new building and know our A school will continue to offer the best education for our students,” said P.S./I.S. 78 Principal Louis Pavone. “We take pride in providing state-of-the-art online learning, and now we have a new building to complement the students’ skills.”

The new five-story building is fully air-conditioned and accessible for students with disabilities. It features 21 standard classrooms, eight special education classrooms, an art room, speech room, music suite, two science labs, a library, gym, auditorium, cafeteria, kitchen and outdoor playground.

“As Long Island City continues the growth that comes with being New York City’s hottest neighborhood, we must ensure that our schools and other infrastructure keep up,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “The opening of the new and improved P.S./I.S. 78 is a landmark event that represents a big step in that direction.”

The new facility was part of an effort by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer to help the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education secure five new school sites within western Queens. All the sites are expected to be fully operational over the next four years.

“Our children deserve the best we can possibly provide for them and this new facility promises to have a positive impact on the education our children will receive for generations to come,” said Van Bramer. “The expansion of P.S./I.S. 78 and creation of P.S. 277 in Long Island City will provide hundreds of students with a state-of-the-art facility right in the heart of a vibrant neighborhood that has become home to thousands of new families.”

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer





Sunnyside street named in honor of Sandy Hook victim

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THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Sandy Hook victim Benjamin Wheeler’s name will live on forever next to the No. 7 train he loved to ride and the Sunnyside street where the world got its first look at him.

Ben, 6, originally from Sunnyside, was one of the 20 children who were killed in the gunfire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. On September 7, he was honored and celebrated during a ceremony to co-name the intersection of 41st Street and Queens Boulevard “Benjamin Wheeler Place.” Ben’s older brother, Nate, unveiled the sign.

“It’s really special that we rename this street ‘Benjamin Wheeler Place’ and the No. 7 train will go back and forth, back and forth and it will be a very beautiful thing,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “They moved to Connecticut but the love they left behind still is so incredibly strong in the community.”

Family, friends and local officials gathered wearing green, Ben’s favorite color, at the corner of 41st Street, where he lived with his parents and brother. His parents, Francine and David, lived in Sunnyside until Ben was seven months old when they decided to move to Newtown.

“We are so incredibly grateful for the chance to thank our former Sunnyside neighbors whom we are very, very lucky enough to still call friends for their love and for their support in the months immediately following last December,” said David. “You quite literally have kept us standing.”

In honor of Ben’s love for The Beatles, Congressmember Joseph Crowley sang “Here Comes the Sun” to the family.

“Nothing more fitting that we can do [today], than honor Benjamin and the entire Wheeler family by naming the street on which he spent his first day and first months, so that we will always remember the valuable contribution that they have made and their love for Sunnyside,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris.

Francine was one of the founding member of Sunnymoms, a collective of local parents who share recipes, baby sitter recommendations and parenting tips. In February, Sunnymoms organized a fundraiser and concert for the Wheeler family to honor Ben’s memory and raise money for the family.

“Ben was six, he had just learned how to tie his shoes, that was his major accomplishment but frankly he hadn’t really perfected that either,” said David. “The sign will show us where we can eventually go as people. It is up to us to make our schools, our malls, our offices, our parks, our street corners safer for children everywhere.”



LIC’s Shady Park reopens following Sandy repairs

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THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

The first phase of restoring the beloved “Shady Park” back to its former glory has been completed.

The Parks Department began repairs in June at Andrews Grove, located on 49th Avenue between 5th Street and Vernon Boulevard in LIC, after the park was left with significant damage from Sandy.

Play equipment, safety surfaces and fencing was damaged and eight of the park’s signature tall trees were felled. After that, only a small part of the park was accessible to residents.

After more than two months of working to restore the 2.3-acre park to its original state, local elected officials, Parks Department officials and community members gathered on Friday to cut the ribbon reopening the green space.

“I am proud to open the newly restored Andrews Grove, a park that has long been embraced by the Long Island City community for its lofty trees and colorful playground,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.

The fixes to the park came through more than $90,000 in city funding and included removing all damaged items, repairs to the playground equipment, new safety surfaces, benches, concrete and asphalt work.

The next phase of bringing “Shady Park” fully back is the planting of eight new trees where the old ones once stood.

Working together with the Friends of Shady Park — a group of neighbors advocating for the repair of Andrews Grove Playground – Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer was able to secure $10,000 in private funding from jetBlue and Warner Bros. to help bring back the trees lost during the storm.

“The reopening of one of Long Island City’s most popular parks marks an enormous day in our city’s efforts to fully recover after Sandy,” said Van Bramer. “This is part of the city’s recovery, this is part of Long Island City’s recovery and when we plant those trees in the fall, it’s going to be another very beautiful day.”

Sheila Lewandowski, founder of Friends of Shady Park, selected the new trees that will be planted in November.

“Within an hour after the construction equipment was cleared the swings were filled with smiling children,” said Lewandowski. “I knew the park was re-opened when the sound of many more children laughing echoed down the block. Now we can heal. Next we replant.”





Sunnyside Community Services gets $2.6M to expand, renovate senior center

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THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Sunnyside Community Services is getting a much needed change to continue helping local and city-wide seniors.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer surprised the seniors at Sunnyside Community Services, located at 43-31 39th Street, during their lunch on August 30 to announce that he has secured $2.6 million in capital funding for the expansion and complete renovation of the organization’s senior center.

“Sunnyside Community Services is a borough-wide institution that each and every single day gives seniors the opportunity to enjoy life through quality recreational activities, inspirational programming and interactive services that keeps them active and engaged,” said Van Bramer. “This is the place where our seniors are taken care of and nothing is more important than taking care of our senior citizens.”

The plans, which are expected to begin within one year, will include the expansion of the Sunnyside Community Service’s Adult Day Services program by opening the space and increasing it by 1,000 square feet to serve close to 20 more seniors. The program will also be relocated to the front of the second floor in order to be easily accessible and safer for seniors. The funding will also feature the installation of new fixtures, flooring and equipment.

The expansion will also double the capability of the Home Health Aide Training program at the center and provide home care for more seniors. It will also allow the Case Management Services to be upgraded and increase the number of caregivers providing therapy for seniors throughout the city.

“We all want you to consider this your second home,” said Judy Zangwill, executive director of Sunnyside Community Services, to the seniors. “We feel all these improvements will make for a much more welcoming environment and greatly improve the experience for seniors.”

The Sunnyside Community Services began almost 40 years ago as a senior center, said Zangwill, and now continues to offer different programs to seniors from all over the borough. Each week the center offers 53,000 hours of health and home care services to 1,500 homebound western Queens residents and serves 15,000 people annually.




Hunter’s Point South Park opens in Long Island City

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THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Talk about a view.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg gathered with local elected officials, community members and residents on Wednesday to cut the ribbon on the new 5.5-acre Hunter’s Point South Park located on Center Boulevard in Long Island City.

“Opening up more of our city’s waterfront for public enjoyment has been a top priority for this administration,” said Bloomberg. “Around the city, we’ve reclaimed abandoned or neglected parts of our waterfront, and turning them into innovative open spaces. I know that Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park will quickly join the list of beloved green spaces along our city’s shores.”

The park features a central open green space, an urban beach with actual sand, a rail garden, dog run and play area featuring a children’s playground and basketball courts. It will also include a 13,000-square-foot pavilion housing comfort stations, concessions and an elevated café plaza.

“One of the premiere neighborhoods in all of New York City is getting better every single day,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who helped secure funds to bring natural grass to the park. “For decades to come, future generations of Long Island City residents and Queens parkgoers will be able to enjoy the panoramic views of New York City’s skyline on 5.5- acres of parkland that have never existed before.”

Hunter’s Point South Park was also constructed to be prepared for any future natural disasters and flooding of the East River.


The park is part of the Hunter’s Point South development project which broke ground in March on the first phase of construction. The first two residential buildings will include 925 permanently affordable apartments and around 17,000 square feet of retail space. In addition to the buildings, this phase includes a new school which is almost near completion and will house The Academy for Careers in Television and Film High School and a middle school, together seating 1,100 students.

This project will be the largest new affordable housing complex to be constructed in New York City since the 1970s.
“Long Island City is the most exciting neighborhood in New York and as it continues to grow, it is crucial that public access to the East River waterfront is secured,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “Together with Gantry State Park, the LIC waterfront will now be a jewel among New York’s parks.”

Construction of the park was led by the City Economic Development Corporation, and landscape architecture firm Thomas Balsley Associates and architect firm Weiss/Manfredi designed the park. It will be operated and maintained by the Parks Department.




LIC ‘s Queensbridge Park gets $2.5 million for renovations

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Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

A Long Island City park is getting much needed help to restore it back to being the jewel of western Queens.

On Monday, August 26 Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer announced he secured $2.5 million in funding to fully renovate and restore the park house at Queensbridge Park.

The Parks Department hopes to construct a new facility that will feature a modern comfort station, storage space for sports teams using the playfields and an office for Parks Department staff.

The appointed staff will offer different programming for adults and children in the future.

“It is extremely important that every single senior and child who lives in Queensbridge know that our city has allocated every single cent we could to make sure that western Queens has a park that rivals Central Park in Manhattan and any other park in the City of New York,” said Van Bramer.

In May, local officials, community groups and residents gathered to break ground on the restoration and improvement of the Queensbridge Park Seawall. The $6.65 million project will include a six-foot wide waterfront promenade with benches and plants as well as a small pier at the north end.

The seawall restoration and improvement was funded through allocations from Van Bramer, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Borough President Helen Marshall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the MTA.

According to Van Bramer, once the restoration of the seawall is completed by next summer, Queensbridge residents and parkgoers will be reconnected to the East River waterfront after a decade of deterioration.

“I look forward to working with him [Van Bramer] and the community on creating a scope of work and design for this project,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.



$300G in repairs not made at Long Island City NYCHA center

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THE COURIER/ Photos By Angy Altamirano

Long Island City seniors are waiting for fixes to be made to their senior center, and have been doing so for three years.

Funds allocated to fix various problems at the Jacob Riis Settlement House at the Queensbridge Houses have yet to be put to use, and now the community wants answers as to why.

Betty McCord, a senior at the center, said that it was difficult for her to breathe last month during a Queensbridge town meeting that took place inside the gym on a hot day. There were fans available but according to McCord, they did not help.

“This place is not suitable for our seniors” said McCord.

Over the past three years, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer has allocated $300,000 for the renovation of two bathrooms and the installation of an air conditioning system in the gym. After meeting with New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) six months ago, the agency only told him the changes would take two more years.

He added NYCHA gave reasons such as not enough designers or workers for the project’s delay.
Representatives of the center said the major problems of the bathrooms are the exposed pipes on the ceiling, toilets that are either too high or too low, rusting appliances, infestation of insects, and flooring that could be dangerous to seniors.

“The lack of safe, functional, and welcoming rest room facilities for our participants and staff, particularly our seniors and young people, has been a problem for several years now,” said Robert Madison, director of Senior Services at the Jacob Riis Senior Center. “Our older adults are often forced to use the upstairs facilities because many of them simply will not set foot in the downstairs bathrooms.”

On Friday, August 16, Van Bramer gathered with seniors and representatives of the Jacob Riis Settlement Neighborhood House, the Jacob Riis Senior Center and the Queensbridge Houses to call on the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to repair problems at the community center.

“Jacob Riis Settlement Neighborhood House is the hub and heart of Queensbridge,” said Van Bramer. “How long do our seniors and youth have to wait for these renovations and improvements to take place? It is impossible and unconscionable to believe that it is going to take NYCHA nearly five years to fix our community center. This is a disgrace. We cannot and will not wait any longer.”

According to a recent NYCHA report sent to the city council, the agency has held onto nearly $50 million in taxpayer dollars which should be used for repairing projects, such as restoring New York City community centers which include the Jacob Riis Settlement House.

“I call on NYCHA to get this work done for the residents of Queensbridge,” said Van Bramer. “Not tomorrow, but today.”

Requests for comment from NYCHA were not returned as of press time.




Queens pol’s home broken into

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A weekend break-in at his home has left Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer looking for justice — and to prevent other families from meeting the same fate.

On Saturday, Van Bramer, who was away from his home at the time, received a call from his next door neighbor informing him that his Sunnyside Gardens home had been broken into overnight.

The burglar had opened the front and back doors with a crowbar, causing damage, and left a window open. A bicycle, some cash and jewelry he had belonging to his mother were stolen.

Although Van Bramer is still surveying his home to make sure nothing else has been taken, he said the main issue that should be addressed is stopping such a thing from happening to others in his community.

“Material things can always be replaced,” said Van Bramer. “What’s important is that these guys get caught and that we stop this from happening to any other family.”

He said the situation is particularly dangerous because the burglar had entered the home in the middle of the night, when most people are sleeping.

Van Bramer, who called the burglars “cowards,” is working with the 108th Precinct to investigate the break-in.

“We can’t have criminals terrorize this neighborhood,” said Van Bramer. “I won’t rest until they are in jail.”



LIC, Hunters Point get $65G to clean up streets

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THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

The streets of Long Island City and Hunters Point are getting cleaner.

On July 31, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer announced $65,000 to expand The Doe Fund’s street cleaning initiative to Hunters Point and Long Island City. The streets involved in the program are along Vernon Boulevard from 50th to 45th Avenue, and 11th Street from 50th to 45th Avenue.

“The cleanliness of the streets is one of the biggest concerns, one of the most frequent issues that we hear about here in the neighborhood,” said Van Bramer. “We want the streets of Hunters Point and Long Island City to be cleaner, we want them to be as clean as possible.”

Under this initiative, Doe Fund workers will be on the streets for three days a week, six hours each day. The workers will sweep the sidewalks from the property lines to the curb and gutters, remove and replace trash bags, clean out cigarette butts and other garbage from the cracks in the sidewalk, remove posters and graffiti from fire hydrants, lights poles and mailboxes, and also straighten newspaper distribution boxes at intersections.

“This is just the beginning, we are opened to expanding the program as we did with Woodside this year,” said Van Bramer. “First we want to see if it works and how well it works.”

Last year, Van Bramer allocated $31,000 to The Doe Fund for a street cleaning program in Woodside that placed a maintenance team on streets along Roosevelt Avenue from 51st to 61st Street, 61st Street from Roosevelt to 39th Avenue, and Woodside Avenue from 58th to 60th Street.

The program will now expand the Woodside initiative along Roosevelt Avenue up to 64th Street.

“I’m fully confident that, as we have in numerous neighborhoods across the city and now in Woodside, we’ll be able to bring these really wonderful and beautiful streets into the Long Island City and Hunters Point area,” said Ray Damm, director of The Doe Fund’s community improvement project.

According to Sheila Lewandowki, executive director of The Chocolate Factory Theater and member of Community Board 2, many residents have voiced their concerns of dirt and dust from construction. She said The Doe Fund will help residents feel safer and cleaner.

“The community board will hear fewer complaints because of the great work of The Doe Fund,” said Lewandowski.



$250,000 to prevent pigeon poop under No. 7 train

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THE COURIER/ Photos by Benjamin Fang

Sunnyside and Woodside residents and commuters will soon be able to walk under the No. 7 train without having to dodge pigeon poop.

After hearing concerns from residents, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer announced he has allocated $250,000 in funding to install “state-of-the-art pigeon mitigation systems” along the No. 7 line at 46th Street-Bliss in Sunnyside, 52nd Street-Lincoln Avenue in Woodside and 61st Street-Woodside.

“Pigeon poop isn’t a joke,” said Van Bramer. “It is something that is terribly disgusting. It makes our neighborhood look unattractive and it is also a health hazard.”

The new alleviation systems, which will take three months to be fully installed, will include the addition of thin wiring and netting in nearby areas to the subway entrances, and installment of nylon spikes and angled edges on the ledges. New ultrasonic devices will also be installed releasing hawks’ and other predatory birds’ sounds that keep pigeons away but are silent to humans.

Chad Coleman, a Sunnyside resident, said the spikes will work as long as they are maintained well. He also said pigeons and rats flock to the area because people leave food around.

“Deterring pigeons from these areas will make a huge impact on the cleanliness of the spaces under the train, and will be a huge step forward to transform these spaces into true public places for pedestrians,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District.

Additional reporting by Benjamin Fang



Safety improvements at fatal Long Island City intersection

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Photos courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

Months after 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak was struck and killed near LaGuardia Community College, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has answered students and residents’ pleas for safety enhancements.

Drudak, a student at the Applied Communications High School inside the community college’s building, died after being struck by a minivan that lost control and mounted the sidewalk at the intersection of Thomson Avenue and 30th Street in Long Island City. Four of five other pedestrians hit in the same incident were students at LaGuardia.

After Drudak’s death, residents, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Community Board 2 and LaGuardia Community College officials called on the DOT to enhance pedestrian safety at the intersection.

“No New Yorker should feel their life is in jeopardy when they are walking along the sidewalks of our City streets” said Van Bramer.

Since April, the DOT has implemented short-term improvements including adjusting the timing of signals near the intersection and installing pedestrian countdown signals at Thomson and Skillman Avenues, 30th Street, 30th Place, 31st Street and 31st Place. The agency has also added signs and improved markings at Thomson Avenue and Van Dam Street.

In the latest changes, the DOT said it has redesigned Thomson and Skillman Avenues by closing the slip ramp and making it illegal for vehicles to makes left turns from Thomson Avenue onto Skillman Avenue.

The department added it has installed new signs and plastic markers to limit left turns from Thomson Avenue to 30th Street.

There is also a brand new 550-square-foot pedestrian space at the intersection of 30th Street and Thomson Avenue. It is bordered by stone blocks, plastic markings and six planters.

According to the DOT, all the changes were aimed at improving safety for the large volume of students and residents that walk through the intersection daily.



Woodside street co-named after beloved community member Lou Rispoli

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THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Louis Rispoli will always be remembered as a great husband, friend, mentor and important member of the Woodside community.

Rispoli, who was attacked in October 2012 in Sunnyside and died at Elmhurst Hospital Center days later, was honored and celebrated on July 27 during a ceremony to co-name 51st Street and 43rd Avenue “Louis Rispoli Way.”

“It’s so important to continuously recognize people who were special, people who were very important to our neighborhood, even if they weren’t famous,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, a friend of Rispoli and his husband. “Lou meant so much to 51st Street. Lou meant so much to Woodside.”

Family, friends and local officials gathered at John Downing Square, one of Rispoli’s favorite spots, located in front of the home he shared with his husband of 32 years, Danyal Lawson.

“Everyone knew him and they loved him,” said Lawson. “He loved it here and I know he would be so proud to see his name on the street. In some ways, since Lou moved to Queens, this has always been Louis Rispoli Way, but now everyone knows it.”

During the ceremony, two sisters who Rispoli mentored performed a duet and another girl sang the song from the couple’s wedding day.

Rispoli was known for making everyone laugh and bringing joy to the lives of those close to him. He met

Van Bramer at a house party several years ago and later volunteered with Van Bramer’s 2009 campaign for City Council.

He also enjoyed frequenting many local restaurants and stores including Nunziato’s Florist, whose owner knew both Rispoli and his husband for over 25 years.

“For 25 years it was never just Lou or just Danyal, it was Lou and Danyal, and that goes for today,” said Mike Gioia, owner of Nunziato’s Florist.

He provided an arrangement for the ceremony with the words “Everbest,” which was how Rispoli signed off in letters.

“Lou and Danyal is truly the Louis Rispoli Way,” Gioia added.

There have been no arrests in connection with Rispoli’s death and the investigation is ongoing.

“This shows to Lou, who is up there, but also to the world, that we’ll never forget him,” said Van Bramer.

“We’ll never rest, we’ll never stop fighting for justice for Louis Rispoli.”