Tag Archives: Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

Amendment allows for dining al fresco in LIC, Sunnyside


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Consumer Affairs

Residents in parts of Long Island City and Sunnyside will now be able to dine al fresco.

On May 22, the City Council adopted the LIC-Sunnyside sidewalk cafés and bulk modification text amendment into legislation. Before this amendment, it was illegal to have outdoor cafés in those areas.

“It was really important for us to change those rules and to give restaurants and cafés that option, should they choose it,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

The amendment would change the zoning to include blocks generally between 2nd, 5th, 11th and 23rd Streets on the west, 37th Avenue on the north, Sunnyside Yards on the east, Borden Avenue on the south, and along Skillman Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets.

According to the Department of City Planning, this change in zoning will enliven the streetscapes and help bring in growing residential, employee, student and tourist populations out onto the streets.

“[Sidewalk cafes] provide a different kind of experience and there are people looking to stay outdoors and eat,” said Van Bramer. “They create traffic and life on our streets and we really want our commercial thoroughfares to be bustling. Not only is that profitable for local businesses but it makes our neighborhoods lively and safer places.”

Restaurants would have to apply to the City Department of Consumer Affairs for a sidewalk café permit.

 

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City to install pedestrian signs in LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Finding your way around Long Island City is going to get easier.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced the first phase of installations for the city’s new pedestrian sign system, WalkNYC. The program will install 100 free-standing signs by the end of the year in four initial areas including Chinatown, Herald Square and the Garment District in Manhattan, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, and Long Island City in Queens.

“You don’t need to be a tourist to feel turned-around on New York’s streets and this first-ever unified pedestrian sign system is a step in the right direction,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The signs, which already appear in more than 300 Citi Bike stations, will be installed in sidewalks and subway stations in the four areas. The maps will show streets, major points of interest and other info. The maps feature a “heads-up” design to show pedestrians the way the street appears in front of them.

Installation has already begun in Manhattan and will work its way around the four areas. The signs are scheduled to reach Long Island City in August.

“The launch of this new pedestrian navigation system will provide New Yorkers as well as millions of tourists who visit our city each year directly with the information they need to access some of the greatest attractions and essential venues we have to offer,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

The program was established mainly through federal grants. Working together with community partners, the DOT was able to research, identify and note popular locations, primary routes and distinct points in each neighborhood. In Long Island City, the DOT has worked alongside the Long Island City Partnership as the program developed. Once the signs are installed, the LIC Partnership will be responsible for sign maintenance and monitoring for needed updates or repairs.

The DOT is also working with other business improvement districts and community partners to expand the pedestrian sign system to more neighborhoods around the city.

 

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Local pols praise Supreme Court DOMA ruling


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Official NYC Council Photo by William Alatriste

Local politicians, including several openly gay and married elected officials, praised the Supreme Court’s decision striking down a law which denied same-sex couples the legal protections afforded to heterosexual spouses.

“When I realized that I was gay, I thought that all of those things that I dreamed about would be denied to me. And in fact, our government said that I couldn’t have those things. I couldn’t get married, I couldn’t be equal,” Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said at a press conference on June 25, the day of the ruling.

Van Bramer became the first openly gay elected official to get married in Queens when he wed his longtime partner Dan Hendrick last July.

All same-sex couples in states where gay marriage is legal will now be eligible for federal benefits given to their heterosexual counterparts.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

“DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the court’s opinion for the majority.

The case’s plaintiff, New York resident Edith Windsor, was trying to collect a refund from the Internal Revenue Service for $363,053 in federal estate taxes she paid when her spouse died in 2009. DOMA prohibited her from collecting the money.

In another 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court on June 26 dismissed the California Proposition 8 case. Two days later, same sex marriage resumed in the state.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who will be the city’s first openly gay mayor if she is elected this fall, marked her one year wedding anniversary in May.

“It’s almost impossible for me to describe what this means,” said Quinn, calling DOMA a “cancer.”

Daniel Dromm, another openly gay member of the City Council, said the court righted a “grave injustice” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Extended tax benefits could save same sex couples money each year. Some of the benefits of filling as a married couple include a greater earned income tax credit and additional exemptions for any children, according to George Sotrillis, a Great Neck-based accounting and tax consultant.

Other new legal rights will give them the same military benefits heterosexual already receive and grant them marriage- and fiancé-based visas.

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court [...] I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse,” Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a July 1 statement.

Naresh Gehi, an immigration trial lawyer from the Forest Hills and Ozone Park-based firm Gehi and Associates said he has already received several inquiries from same-sex couples following the DOMA decision.

Updated Wednesday, July 3

 

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Sunnyside park reopens to four-legged friends


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

Local officials and community members — both two- and four-legged — gathered on Saturday, June 22 to reopen the newly renovated Lou Lodati Park at the corner of Skillman Avenue and 43rd Street in Sunnyside.

The $1.4 million renovations provide the community with an official dog run, improved asphalt sports courts and new trees and other plants throughout the park. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and Borough President Helen Marshall provided $700,000 for the project.

 

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Museum of the Moving Image completes expansion with Kaufman Courtyard dedication


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

The final piece of the Museum of the Moving Image’s expansion and renovation project is in place.

On June 18, local officials, museum representatives and members of the community gathered for a dedication ceremony for the museum’s recently completed outdoor courtyard. It will be named after museum trustee George Kaufman, who is also chair of Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Kaufman Organization, a real estate company.

“My vision for the neighborhood was to create a vibrant, full-service production center and have the studio become the catalyst for neighborhood growth,” said Kaufman. “Today, that vision has become a reality.

The 10,370-square-foot Kaufman Courtyard is the final part of the $2.5 million project designed by Leeser Architecture. The landscaped courtyard garden will include space for an outdoor cafe and offer open-air screenings, exhibitions and special events. The new area will also have a drop-off zone for school buses, a dedicated entrance for school groups and extra room for students to gather during their visits.

The Department of Cultural Affairs, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and the City of New York provided $1.25 million in funding, while Kaufman donated $1 million for the project. The remaining funds came from private contributions.

“From the beginning, I believed these enhancements would heighten the Museum of the Moving Image’s prominence as a world-renowned cultural institution,” said Van Bramer. “Not only will millions of visitors from around the world get to enjoy this newly designed open-air courtyard, but so will local residents who share this neighborhood with one of our city’s greatest cultural institutions.”


(Photo courtesy the Museum of the Moving Image)

 

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Push to bring back subway booths


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Safety comes first.

On Thursday, June 6, members of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and elected officials gathered in front of the Steinway Street subway station in Astoria. They called on the MTA to restore station token booths and agents to provide safer rides for commuters.

“We are no longer going to accept the MTA taking necessary services away from our community,” said Michele Gilliam, member of the political action team for TWU Local 100. “This is a security issue, this is a safety issue.”

In 2010, more than 100 booths were removed across the city’s subway system, the Steinway Street station’s booth among them.

“When people need someone, when they need help, they need to be able to know that there is someone there to care for them,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “I want to make sure that Astorians are safe, all New Yorkers are safe.”

According to the union members, who collected signatures for a petition calling for the restoration of the booth, bringing the station agents back will provide riders with up-to-date information, help tourists and increase safety for subway riders.

According to the MTA, it has no plans of adding booths at this time, saying there is at least one manned booth at every station.

“We will continue to work collaboratively with the NYPD on strategies to reduce crime,” said a spokesperson, adding the MTA is “seeing dramatic results with an overall 20 percent reduction in crime from the previous year.”

The MTA also said it is in the process of installing Help Point Intercoms at over 100 stations within the next 18 months. Each subway station will be equipped with around 10 intercoms customers can use to ask for directions or report an emergency with the touch of a button.

 

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Queens holds 21st Pride Parade


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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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Queensbridge Park Seawall restoration breaks ground


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYC Parks Department

Local officials, community groups and residents gathered to break ground on the restoration and improvement of the Queensbridge Park Seawall last week.

Along with reconstructing the 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 much-anticipated repair of the Queensbridge Park Seawall will provide additional storm protection for the Long Island City community, while also improving their access to the waterfront,” Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White said during the Friday, May 10 event.

The seawall protected Queensbridge Park in Long Island City from high tides and covered some of the mechanisms and underwater cables that keep a number of subway lines in order. It is currently blocked off by a chain-linked fence due to deterioration.

“For too long, the only view of this waterfront has been through a chain-linked fence,” said Congressmember Carolyn Maloney. “Queensbridge Park will now be a gateway to the waterfront instead of a dead end.”

Restoring the seawall will serve recreational purposes for residents. It is also designed to guard against natural disasters such as Sandy.

The project, managed by the NYC Economic Development Corporation, will reconstruct the seawall using large rocks. They will protect the shoreline by absorbing and deflecting waves while lessening the effect of erosion, the Parks Department said.

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

“The project will make this area safer, greener and more attractive while providing more protection from storm damage in the event of another hard-hitting superstorm like Sandy,” Marshall said during the event.

“Today we celebrate the beginning of the project as we look forward to its completion.”

 

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$1.1 million for security cameras at Woodside Houses


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

The residents of the Woodside Houses will soon be safer thanks to a new security camera system.

On April 5, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer announced the $1.1 million project, funded by the City Council. It will include 137 cameras on 20 buildings as part of a new closed-circuit television system for the complex. The cameras will be installed in the lobbies, entrances and basements of the buildings.

“We want residents to feel as safe as possible in their community and in their homes and these security cameras, which will be in every building in the complex, will do that, “ said Van Bramer. “It will make people feel safer and it will also allow police to catch anybody that does commit a crime that much more quickly.”

With installation already underway, the project is expected to be completed by July.

“It’s good because this way the cops can see what is going on outside and they can monitor everything,” said Donald Robinson, assistant supervisor of Woodside Houses. “It’s a security blanket for the residents and especially for the senior citizens. Now someone will always have an eye on them.”

Robinson also hopes the new security system will help keep the buildings cleaner and will gather more information on any wrongdoings that occur within the area.

“You don’t have to say a word because the cameras will catch everything,” said Robinson. “It will make people feel comfortable.”

 

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SculptureCenter expansion breaks ground


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of SculptureCenter/Andrew Berman Architect

Artists and audiences alike will soon have more space at the SculptureCenter in Long Island City.

On Tuesday, April 2, Sascha Bauer, chair of the center’s board of trustees; Mary Ceruti, executive director and chief curator; Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and Kate Levin, commissioner for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, broke ground on the expansion that will include a 2,000-square-foot addition to the structure that has been standing since 1908.

(THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano)

“We’re really proud to be a part of this really great community in Long Island City and I think this expansion furthers our commitment to the neighborhood,” said Ceruti. “We’re really here for the long haul.”

The front half of the outdoor lot, which the center already uses for outdoor exhibitions, will become a one-story building that will house an entrance lobby providing guests with ticketing, orientation and different visitor services such as restrooms, a seating area and coatroom.

“It will allow us to better serve our audiences and improve the visitors’ flow,” said Ceruti. “It will create a more visible street presence for us.”

Along with the lobby, the finished facility will include an elevator and stairway to the lower level galleries, a 1,500-square-foot enclosed courtyard to be used for outdoor exhibitions and events, some upgrades to electrical and mechanical systems and improvements in office and storage space.

“When the work is completed, the new space will provide the SculptureCenter the opportunity to expand their audience and serve more artists,” said Marshall.

The expansion project was designed by Andrew Berman Architect who has designed projects for The New York Public Library and MoMA PS1. The addition will maintain the steel and brick structure of the present building, yet will create a street presence “through the introduction of a limited vocabulary of new materials including plywood and Corten steel.”

The project is expected to be completed by fall of 2014 with exhibitions still remaining open throughout the construction period, with some changes in the schedule.

In addition, the “Building SculptureCenter Campaign” will provide $4.5 million in building funds and $1.5 million in working capital and term endowment to “position the organization to play a defining role in the neighborhood and contemporary art field far into the 21st century.”

The SculptureCenter moved to the former trolley repair shop in 2002 and has since then presented works by over 700 artists.

 

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City Council passes resolution calling for speed cameras


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Local lawmakers are telling drivers to slow down.

On Wednesday, March 20, the City Council approved a resolution calling on the state Legislature to pass a law allowing New York City to set up a speed camera pilot program. It would test 20 to 40 speed cameras installed at high-risk locations across the city for five years, according to the Council, which said one in four traffic deaths in the city is caused by speeding.

“The speed cameras would not photograph the driver or disseminate the license plate number of the vehicle,” the Council said in a release.

Fines would range from $25 to $50 for speeding between 10 and 30 miles above the speed limit and $100 for driving more than 30 miles above the speed limit.

“If we can save the life of just one child by reducing the speed of vehicles in our city, this pilot program will have served its purpose,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who sits on the Council’s Transportation Committee and helped spearhead the resolution. “We are obligated to protect the lives of our city residents and introducing a speed camera pilot program in New York City will help reduce excessive speeding in areas that have been plagued by drag racing, excessive vehicular crashes and pedestrian collisions.”

One accident where speed may have been a factor is the death of a nine-year-old Sunnyside girl, Hallie Geier, who, in 2004, was hit by an SUV in front of Van Bramer’s home.

Following the incident, Van Bramer and the Council worked to have the Department of Transportation (DOT) install speed humps on the block.

But more needs to be done according to the Council, and the DOT agrees.

After releasing 2012 traffic safety statistics this week, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is calling for “swift state authorization for the city to use speed-camera enforcement for the first time, with a priority given to streets near schools with documented speeding.”

Although the city experienced historic lows in annual traffic deaths last year, “fatal crashes overwhelmingly involved speeding (increasing from 49 in 2011 to 81 in 2012),” and were “the greatest single factor in traffic deaths.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly is also behind the speed camera plan, according to reports, and sent a letter to state legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo expressing his support.

But the New York City Police Benevolent Association (PBA) strongly disagrees with Kelly, and believes money for the program would be better used for other speed mitigating measures.

“Speed cameras are no substitute for live policing. Many speeders are unlicensed, some are operating under the influence and sometimes they are fleeing crime scenes or carrying weapons,” said PBA president Patrick J. Lynch. “Cameras let all those dangers slip by. Money spent on speed cameras would be far better used to improve public safety by hiring more fully trained police officers to interdict speeders.”

Photo courtesy of DOT

After fatal accident, community calls for safety


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

It didn’t have to end in tragedy.

Following the death of 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak, mowed down by a minivan outside LaGuardia Community College, students and residents asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) for what they say are much-needed street safety enhancements.

Drudak, a student at Applied Communications High School inside LaGuardia 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 the other five pedestrians hit were students from LaGuardia.
Public officials, students, school administrators, staff members and concerned residents gathered Thursday morning, March 14 in front of Drudak’s memorial at the intersection to voice their concerns and ask the DOT to take another look at the busy street and its safety conditions.

“No one should have to fear getting hit by a car on their way to school or work,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “We need answers and we need solutions to make this place safer.”

Students at LaGuardia Community College started the “Petition to act on a safety concern with traffic issues” last July and sent it to the DOT with close to 500 signatures. According to Shah Amanat, president of the LaGuardia Community College Student Government, the DOT replied in November saying all signals were operating as designed and no changes were needed at the time.

“Please do something. We need safety. We need safety for the students, we need safety for the community, we need safety for staff and faculty members,” said Amanat.

Those in attendance asked the DOT to conduct a comprehensive safety and traffic study of Thomson Avenue and all side streets, put up additional barricades/barriers on the sidewalks and the adjustment of the timing of the street and crossing lights.

“We need them to come back and not say ‘everything is fine here,’” said Van Bramer. “We need the DOT to do this and do it now.”

Friends of Drudak also gathered to show their support for the street safety improvements and to remember their lost friend.

“I couldn’t believe it at first,” said Tenzin Samphel, 16, a student from International High School who best remembers his times beatboxing while Drudak rapped.

According to a DOT spokesperson, the fatal crash was the first at the location in at least six years and the safety enhancements that are under consideration include sidewalk extensions at the intersection and other “significant improvements.”

“Safety is always DOT’s first priority and the agency was already working with LaGuardia Community College to improve pedestrian safety and access at this location as part of the college’s planned expansion,” said the DOT spokesperson.

 

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Stars shine at Queens World Film Festival


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

The stars came out for the Queens World Film Festival at the Museum of the Moving Image. 

Opening night was held on Tuesday, March 5 and featured films from the borough and as far away as Belgium, Italy, Spain and Australia.

Organizers Katha and Don Cato welcomed the large audience of film lovers and encouraged the filmmakers present to continue making films.

“We have a lot to talk about or even argue about,” said Katha. “You must continue to tell your stories, it’s what binds us together!”

Before any of the films made its debut, the festival honored Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer as the 2013 Spirit of Queens Community honoree for his dedication to the community and the arts.

“If you do not believe culture and the arts sustain communities, you have to witness festivals like this,” said Van Bramer. “You don’t have to go to Manhattan to see world-class films.”

Although Academy Award nominated actress Karen Black could not be in attendance, she was also featured as a Spirit of Queens honoree and accepted her recognition through a pre-recorded video.

Saturday night, March 9, the awards presentation was held at Renaissance Event Hall. Among the winners was “Planet Utero” by Elmhurst’s Faiyaz Jafri, for Best Animation. William Cusick was another local filmmaker who took home an award for Founder’s Choice for his film “Welcome to Nowhere (Bullet Hole Road).” The Audience Award winner was “Mikeyboy,” which is set in Queens, by director Christopher Berkenkamp.

The festival came to an end Sunday, March 10 with encore screenings at the Secret Theatre of all the winning films.

Adrian Manzano from Jackson Heights debuted his feature “BQE” at the film festival.

The festival honored Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer as the 2013 Spirit of Queens Community Honoree for his dedication to the community.

 

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Parents fight against gifted and talented cuts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Don’t fix what’s not broken.

That was the message echoed through P.S. 122’s auditorium on Wednesday, March 6, by concerned parents, school officials and local politicians looking to stop the gutting of the school’s prestigious gifted and talented classes.

The “emergency meeting,” which brought over 500 attendees, was organized by the school’s PTA in response to the Department of Education’s proposal last month to eliminate classes at the prestigious middle school program known as The Academy at P.S. 122. The cuts will happen in order to expand the general education population into the eighth grade.

“This is a meeting to show we’re united,” said Claudia Lieto-McKenna, co-president of the PTA. “It is our issue together.”
In order to extend P.S. 122 into the eighth grade, by 2019 there will be room for only one class per grade in The Academy, down from the three to four classes offered now.

“You’re not worried just about your kids, you are worried about everyone else’s kids,” said Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. “We started this fight together and we’ll end it together.”

Two DOE representatives were present at the meeting to take down comments and concerns from the community, yet were met with a hostile reception from parents who felt their questions were being ignored and unanswered.

“We’re being bullied about our kid’s education,” said Nikos Kantzoglou, 47, a P.S. 122 parent. “We’re not going to stand for it.”

According to Lieto-McKenna, the reduction of classes at The Academy will result in the loss of the school’s art and music rooms, computer and science labs and library, as they will all be turned into classrooms. The overcrowding at the school will also cause lunch periods to begin as early as 9:30 a.m.

“We can never give up, to do so is to give up on our children,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Along with parents and officials, P.S. 122 alumni were also in attendance, including a graduate from the class of 1939, and some made their voices heard on stopping the “attack” on their “model school.”

“I don’t like seeing this school being attacked,” said Linday James Soto, 20, who attended P.S. 122. “This school has helped me get where I am.” Soto also stood up during the meeting to express his anger to the DOE representatives, saying the proposal would turn the school into a “compulsory prison.”

Although negative uproars were heard in the auditorium, some speakers hoped to be able to work with the DOE to reach a plan that would benefit the community.

“We’ll work with you,” said Jeffrey Guyton of Community District Education Council 30 to the DOE representatives. “You will succeed beyond your wildest expectations.”

According to Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent, as of Friday, March 8, the District 30 Education Coalition has retained counsel and will be filing an injunction against the DOE.

 

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City breaks ground on Hunter’s Point South project


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of NYC Mayors Office's Flickr

The first shovelful of dirt was slung last week on what will be the city’s biggest new affordable housing complex since the 1970s.

On Monday, March 4, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, public officials and representatives from firms involved in building Hunter’s Point South broke ground on the first phase of construction that will bring the first two residential buildings of the project to the Queens waterfront, with 925 permanently affordable apartments and around 17,000-square-feet of retail space.

In addition to the buildings, this phase will include a new five-acre waterfront park and a new school seating 1,100 students, almost near completion.

“In just a few years, Hunter’s Point will have all the makings of a great community – affordable homes, new transportation links, beautiful parks with sweeping views and a brand-new school,” said Bloomberg.

The plan evolved in Community Board 2 and came to be after the members put forth the idea to the mayor. The city later acquired the land, said CB 2 chair Joseph Conley.

The residential buildings are expected to have a “well balanced” population of residents including low- to moderate-income families, senior citizens, city employees and people with disabilities, said Conley.

“This ground breaking represents another milestone in the ongoing transformation of Hunter’s Point,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “These two towers will be affordable to many who live and want to remain residents in western Queens.”

After being hit hard by Sandy, the plans for the Hunter’s Point South waterfront include resiliency actions to safeguard the buildings from any future weather events.

For example, according to the mayor’s office, the buildings’ emergency generators will be on the roof and the mechanical systems on the second floor.

One building will be located at 1-50 50th Avenue and the other at 1-55 Borden Avenue. The buildings are being designed by SHoP Architects and Ismael Leyva Architects and are expected to begin to be occupied in 2014, with full construction finalized in 2015.

“Long Island City represents the future of New York City, and with projects like these, that future is a bright one,” said Van Bramer.

 

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