Tag Archives: Councilmember Ruben Wills

Officials break ground on new Adult Learning Center in Rochdale Village

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo by Dominick Totino Photography

Brainy bookworms in Rochdale Village will soon have a $4.1 million new home away from home.

According to Queens Library officials, the community’s Adult Learning Center will be doubled in size to include more classroom and discussion group space, additional computers, listening stations and a new handicapped-accessible restroom.

“The expanded Adult Learning Center at Rochdale Village is a solid investment in the future,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, who provided $500,000 in funding. “When finished, it will be a practical resource for users who want to explore the programs and services it offers to enhance opportunities and career paths in a comfortable, up-to-date modern facility.”

Additional funds were allocated by Assemblymember Vivian Cook and Councilmember Ruben Wills, who joined Marshall and library officials on March 9 during the project’s groundbreaking and ceremonially kick-off.

According to library officials, the adult learning center — which is one of seven in the Queens Library system — serves hundreds of adult students every year, helping them to learn how to read, write and converse in English. The center also helps prepare students for pre-GED classes.

“The Adult Learning Center is vital to the adults in our community,” Cook said. “This expansion is great news for the residents of southeast Queens.”

The new center will be built on the vacant city-owned property adjacent to the library, officials said. Among other renovations, officials said, the roof, indoor ventilation systems and fire protection equipment will be replaced and self-service check-in technology will be installed.

Construction is expected to conclude in the fall of 2013.

Meanwhile, officials said,  will continue its normal operations, and the Adult Learning Center will hold its sessions at the Rochdale Village and Laurelton Libraries in the interim.

Trashy situation along Liberty Avenue

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Business owners are bearing the brunt of the burden as overflowing garbage cans and household debris continue to litter Liberty Avenue.

“People seem to think — when they see a trash can — that they can dump all of their garbage from home there. They think they have the right to do that. It’s frustrating,” said Monica, a manager at Monique’s Beauty Salon, who did not want to give her last name. “This always happens. I get upset because we didn’t put the garbage there, but we’re still being fined for it.”

Like Monica, several merchants along the main commercial strip in Richmond Hill have been slapped with $100 fines for waste that spills onto their storefronts, although they say the mess is not theirs.

“People leave nasty stuff outside — and when they leave it there, we get a ticket,” said Pam Mohabir, owner of Melanie Fashion Boutique.

Mohabir said she has seen garbage bags, construction waste and even mattresses pile up in front of her store on 127th Street.

She said she was pinned with a $100 fine at the end of November for debris and leaves blown in front of her store during a rainy day.

“When other people leave stuff outside, we have to bring it in to the back of the store so we don’t get fined,” Mohabir said.

The debris debacle has also raised concerns from local leaders.

Vishnu Mahadeo, president of the Richmond Hill Economic Development Council, said the problem stems from a combination of not having enough garbage receptacles along Liberty Avenue and not having frequent enough garbage pickups.

“When the garbage overflows, the store owner gets a ticket. It’s a very unhealthy relationship,” Mahadeo said, adding that business has suffered as a result of the overwhelming amount of refuse. “[The area] no longer is a shopper-friendly environment. It’s a sore sight and it’s very unsanitary. When there’s overflowing garbage, you don’t feel comfortable shopping there.”

Councilmember Ruben Wills — who has been working with merchants about this issue over the last year — said trash pickups have been recently extended from two to three days a week after he and Councilmember Eric Ulrich were able to secure funding for it.

“That alleviated a lot of the problem,” Wills said, adding that they just added more funding.

However, according to Wills, the problem lies beyond insufficient pickups and trash bins. He said the area is home to several “illegally converted apartment buildings, which allows for a lot more garbage to be accumulated and for the infrastructure to be overwhelmed.”

He said he is currently working with the Department of Buildings and the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to enforce fines upon the people who litter and not the storeowners.

“It’s not fair for this issue to be put on the back of small business owners,” Wills said.

While business owners are still required to sweep their sidewalks during the day, DSNY officials said they are “closely monitoring litter baskets to address their misuse, as well as pedestrians to make sure they respect their community.”

Business owners are asked to report garbage overflow problems to 3-1-1.

Queens Election Day results

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, seen voting, secured his record sixth consecutive term as county prosecutor

Election Day was quiet in Queens with only three races on the ballot – two of which featured only a single candidate.

Both Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and Councilmember Ruben Wills retained their seats after running unopposed in their respective elections.

Brown secured his record sixth consecutive term as county prosecutor. The D.A., who is in his 20th year on the job, ran with endorsements from his own Democratic Party, as well as the Republicans and Conservatives.

The 2,400 voters who turned out for the District 28 race had only Wills to vote for after the incumbent defeated Allan Jennings in the September Democratic Primary with over 67 percent of the vote.

Wills was first elected to the council in a special election last November after Councilmember Thomas White passed away. District 28 encompasses South Jamaica, South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill.

Twelve candidates ran for the six available Queens Supreme Court justice seats. Over 213,000 votes were tallied in the race with the six Democrats running securing victories. Democrats Janice A. Taylor of Jamaica, Allan Weiss of Forest Hills, Rudolph E. Greco Jr. of Jackson Heights, Timothy J. Dufficy of Breezy Point, Pam B. Jackson-Brown of Jamaica and Ira H. Margulis of Oakland Gardens each received over 9 percent of the vote.

The results of the elections remain preliminary while a complete recanvass of all voting machines and the counting of all valid absentee, affidavit, and military ballots before the election results can be certified.

– Additional reporting by Michael Pantelidis and Steve Mosco