Tag Archives: Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley

Councilwoman Crowley requests support from CB 5 on light rail plan

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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The plan to bring commuter light rail to Glendale is chugging along.

Hoping to garner support from Community Board 5’s (CB 5) Transportation and Public Transit Committees, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley presented her plans for a light rail infrastructure on the former lower Montauk line during the committees’ joint meeting on Tuesday night.

“What I would like to do as the next step in pushing this plan forward is why I’m here tonight; to engage you to consider putting a resolution together to support this plan, or something similar, to bring commuter rail back to this line,” Crowley said. “And I’m putting together a mission statement and a task force.”

Crowley believes that a commuter light rail line could benefit the communities it would service in several ways, the first being to bring more transportation options to Glendale.

“I don’t need to tell you, I live here right by Atlas Park, that this has been somewhat of a transportation desert in comparison to much of the rest of the city that is in such close proximity to the core,” Crowley said.

A light rail line, operating on the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Montauk branch, would create a connection from Glendale to Long Island City. Crowley proposes that the line would start at The Shops at Atlas Park, where there are 1,300 parking spaces available, with stops heading west, terminating at the Hunterspoint Avenue LIRR stop, which has a train depot to store and turn trains around.

The Montauk line also connects to the LIRR Bushwick branch, which is heavily used by freight rail but offers a potential light rail connection to Brooklyn, the legislator noted.

“I’m thinking if we bring it back … you could have an [interborough] connection to get to Brooklyn … that interborough connection is important and we need to improve on that,” Crowley said.

Adding a light rail line, Crowley noted, would also entice some of the young, creative professionals moving into Bushwick and Ridgewood to relocate or open up businesses in Glendale and other surrounding communities, thus creating economic growth.

“If you look at the line, there is a lot of underutilized manufacturing which is also threatening us,” Crowley said. “We have rich architecture in these old loft-style buildings which could provide opportunities for new technologies and economic development if we had a way to bring people to jobs that could be created in these buildings.”

In order to get her plan moving, the councilwoman has already met with several of her colleagues in the government including Assemblymen Mike Miller and Andrew Hevesi, Congresswoman Grace Meng, state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

“Right now, they all like what we’re discussing,” Crowley said. “I haven’t heard many negatives other than where are we going to get the money for this project.”

Members of the committees saw the potential in Crowley’s current plan, and even looked further ahead to a much larger plan extending the line to the west and the east.

“If you look at a master plan so to speak, this would be phase one of the master plan. You want to create this rail from a Glendale station in Atlas Park to wherever,” said CB 5 Chair Vincent Arcuri. “Eventually then the next phase would be into Sunnyside, 63rd Street, down the Second Avenue East Side Access. The third phase could be the Rockaway Branch, so that may be a whole presentation and we were the first ones to come out in favor of a rail transportation system on the Rockaway Branch.”

Some committee members were concerned over what type of effect a rail line like this would have on the freight operations on the line. Crowley responded by saying that companies are looking to increase the amount of freight, and if the community does not recognize this track as a benefit then it might be taken over for freight transportation.

The committees are expected to come up with a resolution on Crowley’s plan in the weeks ahead.


Elected officials visit deteriorating underpass in Middle Village

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Photos courtesy Senator Joseph Addabbo's office/ Gallery courtesy Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley's office

An underpass beneath the Long Island Expressway in Middle Village has gone to the birds.

Conditions at the pedestrian underpass at 80th Street and 57th Avenue have become increasingly worse over the last several months, according to residents who have complained about the unsightly and unsanitary conditions.

The underpass has seen a growing infestation of pigeons in the tunnel, which leave droppings, broken eggs, broken spikes and feathers along the pedestrian walkway. Along with the litter and other debris left by foot traffic, the underpass has become a hazardous and unclean environment for residents who use this bridge on a daily basis.

Recently, state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley visited the underpass.

Last week, Addabbo met with constituents at the underpass to discuss what could be done to fix the problems.

Addabbo had previously contacted the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT), which is responsible for the maintenance of the underpass, regarding the walkway’s conditions. The DOT had made efforts to clean up the sidewalks, but Addabbo believes that long-term measures are needed to prevent pigeons from gathering in the tunnel.

“The Department of Transportation listened to our concerns the first time around, and my constituents and I need them to hear us again now,” Addabbo said. “While we appreciate their efforts to tidy up this area, more needs to be done to prevent this situation from continuing to occur, worsening each time around. These pigeons and the mess they leave behind are making this walkway unbearable, and the people of Middle Village and the surrounding communities deserve better. Nobody wants to walk down a sidewalk covered in bird droppings and dirty feathers, and nobody should have to.”

Earlier in the week, Crowley joined members of the state DOT to clean the underpass marred by nesting pigeons and debris. The agency started installing wooden planks along the underside of the bridge, blocking the areas from birds looking to roost.

“Pedestrians going to and from P.S. 58, Maspeth High School, Elmhurst Park, Grand Avenue and more walk under these elevated platforms every day,” Crowley said. “Keeping this underpass clean from pigeon dropping was a constant battle, but once complete, this project will give our residents the clean sidewalks and healthy space they deserve. This was a quality-of-life issue that needed our attention, and I thank the State DOT for taking action.”

A representative from the DOT confirmed the cleanup efforts at the site.

“We are adding wooden planks to deter pigeons at this location, and we believe this will serve as a permanent solution. We are also replacing any of the bird spikes that have been damaged, and we are adding additional spikes,” said Diane Park, public information office for the NYS DOT. “Additionally, this location is washed on a three-month cycle as part of NYSDOT’s bridge-washing program. It was last washed on Aug. 28, 2015.”


Community Board 5 talks parks for capital budget priorities

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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The city should set aside big bucks for park improvements in Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village, according to residents and members of Community Board 5 (CB 5).

Several parks within CB 5 are either in need of repairs or are due to receive repairs. The community board wants to make sure that such projects are included in the city’s fiscal year 2017 capital budget.

Rosemary’s Playground in Ridgewood, Frank Principe Park in Maspeth and Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village were main areas of concern with the community board mentioned during a special public hearing on the budget on Sept. 9 in Middle Village.

Rosemary’s Playground has been a focus of CB 5 for several months now, and it is garnering even more attention. Parents have been fighting to improve the conditions at the park and although some work has been done, more work is needed.

“There were small fixes done on the playground” in the last couple of months, said Steffi Sauer, member of the Friends of Rosemary’s Playground group. “Safety hazards were fixed so that’s great news. We want to thank the Parks Department for that, but again a lot more has to be done.”

The deteriorating condition of the park’s equipment has been addressed as well, but additional work is still needed.

“They scraped down the play equipment. They haven’t repainted that play equipment yet,” said CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano. “But now what’s going on is we are hearing people want a dog run in Ridgewood, and Rosemary’s Playground is one of the places that people are talking about. But when you’re talking about Ridgewood, you’re talking about a lot of users competing for small spaces.”

One park that is slated for repairs is Frank Principe Park. Last year Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley allocated over $5 million in city funding to repair the park’s baseball fields and running track.

“We need to, I think, push the Parks Department as far as design goes, but there is a substantial amount of money to our knowledge for the reconstruction of Frank Principe Park,” Giordano said. “With soccer booming in a lot of ways…that is a place that can really serve very well for soccer in Maspeth.”

Crowley has also funded the reconstruction of Juniper Valley Park’s running track and turf soccer field.

“I believe there’s 2 million dollars available for renovations in that part of Juniper,” Giordano said regarding the soccer field/running track area of the park.

As in previous years, CB 5 is also prioritizing improvements to the Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park on the Brooklyn-Queens border.


Maspeth High School’s summer debate camp gets visit from councilwoman

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Photos courtesy Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley's office

Maspeth High School is still leaving Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley speechless.

This summer the school held a two-week debate camp for students from fourth through 12th grades. During the session, members and participants of the Queens Debate Institute introduced interested students to the art of debate.

Crowley, who dedicated $5,000 for the Maspeth High School debate team in this year’s budget, paid a visit to the camp at the school on Aug. 31 prior to its culminating tournament.

“The community is so proud to have a first-class debate team right here at Maspeth High School, and I enjoy seeing the team share their talents with other youth in New York City,” Crowley said. “Debate is used in so many everyday situations, and I’m pleased so many students are developing that skill so early in life.”

The Queens Debate Institute summer camp is a “two-week boot camp, teaching the fundamentals of debate from public speaking, ending with a full debate tournament on the last day of camp,” said Erik Fogel, director of the New York City Urban Debate League.

“Debate teaches every academic subject including current events, philosophy, critical theory, economics, geography, political science — many subjects that students normally do not learn until college or graduate school. As a result, every study shows that students that participate in debate have higher graduation rates, college acceptance rates, grades, test scores and every other academic indicator,” Fogel added. “Thank you to Council member Crowley for supporting Queens’ great debaters and inspiring them to apply their debate skills to real life to change the world around them.”


Public invited to September participatory budgeting meetings in 30th Council District

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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Now that participatory budgeting is coming to the 30th Council DistrictCity Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is inviting the public to attend neighborhood meetings where they can have their voices heard on upcoming capital budget ideas.

Through the participatory budgeting process, residents of the 30th Council District — which includes all or parts of Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Woodhaven and Woodside — will gather to brainstorm and then vote on a number of proposed capital budget projects for their community, including street resurfacing, street tree planting, park improvements and more.

Crowley has released a list of dates through September of when and where community members can meet with her to discuss the process of participatory budgeting.

Those dates and locations are as follows:

  • Thursday, Sept. 10, at the Frank Kowalinski Post, 61-57 Maspeth Ave., Maspeth, at 6:30 p.m.;
  • Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Ridgewood Library, 2012 Madison St., Ridgewood, at 2:30 p.m.;
  • Monday, Sept. 14, at the Wynwood Gardens Civic Association meeting, 70-31 48th Ave., Woodside, at 7 p.m.;
  • Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Maspeth Town Hall, 53-37 72nd St., Maspeth, at 6:30 p.m.;
  • Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Ridgewood YMCA located at 69-02 64th St., Ridgewood, at 1 p.m.;
  • Thursday, Sept. 24, at P.S. 87, 67-54 80th St., Middle Village, at 6:30 p.m.;
  • Monday, Sept. 28, at Redeemer Lutheran School located at 69-26 Cooper Ave., Glendale, at 6:30 p.m.; and
  • Wednesday, Sept. 30, at the U.S. Columbarium, 61-40 Mount Olivet Crescent, Middle Village, at 6:30 p.m.

Future workshop dates will be released in the weeks to come. For more information, call Crowley’s Glendale office at 718-366-3900.


Glendale cemetery ceremony honors victim of lynch mob 100 years later

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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

Vowing never to forget, local elected officials and activists gathered on Monday at the Glendale grave of Leo Frank to mark the 100th anniversary since the Jewish factory superintendent wrongfully convicted of murder in Georgia was lynched by a hateful mob.

In 1913, a jury in Georgia found Frank guilty of murdering a 13-year-old girl who worked at his factory and sentenced him to death in a trial marked by anti-Semitism. Then-Georgia Gov. John Slaton commuted Frank’s sentence to life in prison, but in 1915, a group of armed men kidnapped Frank from the prison farm where he was serving time.

The group drove Frank to Marietta, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb, where on Aug. 17, 1915, he was brutally beaten and hanged from a tree — a victim of anti-Semitism and unfounded fear among residents. Frank’s body was interred at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Glendale, where Monday’s ceremony took place at graveside.

Among the participants were City Council members Rory I. Lancman and Elizabeth Crowley, Assemblyman David Weprin, Public Advocate Letitia James, Borough President Melinda Katz and members of the Anti-Defamation League, the Queens Jewish Community Council and the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives.

“Leo Frank wasn’t a senator or an advocate. He wasn’t an artist or an academic. He was just a Jew, and often that’s all the world needs to know,” Lancman said. “He must have felt terribly alone during his ordeal, especially when he was kidnapped and surrounded by a bloodthirsty mob. He is not alone today.”

Crowley echoed Lancman’s sentiments that more work is needed to bring an end to social injustices that still exist today.

“This still happens today, 100 years later. That’s why it’s so important we come together as a community to remember the anti-Semitic acts that killed Leo Frank and the racism that is alive today in America,” Crowley said. “Whether it’s the color of your skin or the religion you practice, here in New York and all across America and sadly, more often, all across the world people are killed for who they believe in or who they are, and that’s just wrong.”

Frank’s grandniece, Catherine Smithline, was in attendance to remember her granduncle and the terrible ordeal he was put through a century ago. Smithline was presented a proclamation from the Council of the City of New York on behalf of Frank that would remain at the cemetery, which memorializes some of the facts of Frank’s trial and murder.

“Leo Frank’s trial and murder was not just a horrific example of anti-Semitism, but also a damning condemnation of America’s justice system at the time,” Lancman added. “Let’s leave here remembering Leo Frank, but let’s not forget that we still have a lot of work to do to rid our legal system of injustice.”


Crowley visits NJ to gain insight on light rail line for Glendale

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Photo courtesy Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley's office

In order to get the wheels moving on a plan to bring light rail service to western Queens, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley took a trip to New Jersey to visit the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line and gather information on how such a project could affect Glendale and the surrounding communities.

The councilwoman first presented her idea for a light rail service connecting Glendale and Long Island City in an exclusive interview with the Ridgewood Times last month. She used her trip to the Hudson-Bergen line on July 29 to examine how it was built, how it operates and how the communities benefit from the light rail line.

Crowley explained that the Hudson-Bergen line was funded through a mixture of public and private investments, expressing that she would like to see that same combination of funding for a light rail line in Glendale. However, bringing light rail into Glendale would not cost nearly as much as the Hudson-Bergen line, mainly because the tracks and right-of-way are already in place.

“It was interesting to see how it was put together by a public/private partnership,” Crowley said in a phone interview with the Ridgewood Times. “The cost of building a station shouldn’t be as expensive. This would be in the tens of millions, not the hundreds of millions.”

The Hudson-Bergen line runs through Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, Union City and North Bergen. The line began its operation in 2000 and expanded over the next 10 years, and it currently services nearly 50,000 daily passengers.

“They have built a 21st-century rail all within the last 15 years. When they started back in 2000, 15 years ago, Bayonne had a small light rail and they expanded that,” Crowley said. “The Hudson-Bergen line is the second most-used passenger rail line in New Jersey. I was interested in learning on how they first started and then grew and what has happened in and around the communities they run through.”

The Hudson-Bergen line uses a fleet of all-electric train cars, which are the size of about two or three city buses, Crowley said.

“That would be a difference I would propose. We already have the infrastructure in place for diesel trains,” Crowley said, adding that hybrid train cars that run on diesel and battery power is an attractive option. “I think there are a lot of differences in the old train cars than what is used today.”

She used the hybrid buses as an example of how efficient a hybrid locomotive can be, noting that the train cars could produce less pollution and create less noise since they would be hauling only passengers instead of freight.

In addition to producing less air and noise pollution, a light rail line in Glendale could potentially create economic opportunities for the community, according to the legislator.

“I was impressed with all the activity around the rail line. Opening businesses, modern infrastructure that helped build a stronger community. I would see that as a benefit of the rail,” Crowley said. “We’ve been burdened by the freight rail, why not use the train tracks there for the public’s benefit?”

The next step in Crowley’s plan to bring a light rail to Glendale include meeting with representatives from various agencies including the MTA and Department of City Planning and creating a board in support of her plan.

“I am going to put together a board in support of it to engage local elected officials and representatives from city agencies and businesses to come and see what has worked in some areas and what we could do to get this project some traction,” Crowley explained. “I am going to have a meeting with all different colleagues in government to talk about it more.”


Maspeth, Middle Village set to co-name two streets for community leaders

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Photo via Google Maps

The City Council unanimously passed a bill Thursday that includes the proposed co-naming of two Queens streets, one in Maspeth and the other in Middle Village.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley proposed the bill to honor Frank Kowalinski and Bishop Joseph Sullivan.

Maspeth Avenue between 61st and 64th streets is slated to become Frank Kowalinski Way. Kowalinski was born in 1894 and grew up on Clinton Avenue. In 1918, Kowalinski became the first U.S. Army soldier of Polish decent to be killed in combat during World War I. In honor of his service, the local veterans post in Maspeth is named after Kowalinski.

Middle Village will see 71st Street, from Eliot Avenue south of the railroad, be named Bishop Joseph Sullivan Way.

Sullivan served the Our Lady of Hope parish since its founding in 1960 until his death in 2013. Sullivan was also involved with several Catholic charities, hospitals and other religious, interreligious and secular organizations.

“Recognizing and memorializing the dedication of these two men to their country and community is truly a privilege,” Crowley said. “Queens is both fortunate and unique in that it has a history of such strong public servants, whether they are soldiers or clergymen. It is only right to post their names for all to see in the neighborhoods they have made such an impact on. That way, their legacy can live on for generations to come.”

The dates for the co-naming ceremonies have yet to be determined.


Upgrades coming for Woodhaven’s Mary Whalen Playground

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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

For over a year, Forest Park’s Mary Whalen Playground, located near Forest Parkway and Park Lane South, has been awaiting repairs, but the wait will end next month.

On Aug. 18, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley will be holding a groundbreaking ceremony at the Woodhaven play space in Forest Park to kick off the start of the renovation.

Crowley has allocated $1 million from City Council funding for the site, while the Parks Department added another $180,000 from the department’s budget to reconstruct the playground.

Mary Whalen Playground was built in the 1940s and sits at the bottom of a large hill that was formed by an Ice Age glacier hundreds of thousands of years ago. The semi-circular park last received renovations in 1991.

The park is named after Mary Whalen, who was the vice president of Community Board 9 and a one-time president of the Woodhaven Block Association. She also founded the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation.

Currently, the park’s centerpiece, a spray shower water feature, has cracked asphalt surrounding it. The concrete wall near Park Lane South is eroding, and certain play equipment is outdated, including the 10-foot swings that do not meet American Society for Testing Material standards.

The renovations will upgrade the park to include new play equipment, a new central water feature, separate areas for preschoolers and pre-teens, a new teen court play area near the back of the playground, and a secondary ramp into the park from Park Lane South that will adhere to the standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The project will also increase the green spaces of the playground by adding more canopy trees and repair the existing drainage system, perimeter walls and curbs.


104COP thanks Frank Kotnik for 25 years of service

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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

For 25 years Frank Kotnik has served the communities of Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Ridgewood as a member of the 104 Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP), formerly known as G-COP (Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol).

During those two and a half decades, Kotnik devoted his time and energy to making those communities as safe as he could by organizing patrols, coordinating parades and lending help during times of need, such as after 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy.

At Thursday night’s 104COP meeting at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, family, friends, colleagues and local politicians surprised Kotnik to celebrate his 25 years of service as he stepped down as president of 104COP.

As his final act as president, Kotnik handed over the gavel to Mark Pearson, the new president of 104COP. Although Kotnik stepped down as president, he will remain an active member of the board.

After the installation of all the newly elected officers of 104COP, the guests began showering Kotnik with thanks and gifts.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo presented Kotnik with a proclamation from the New York Senate, thanking him for his years of dedication to the communities that 104COP serves and for lending help to other communities in need.

“I will forever be grateful to 104COP, and to Frank, because a third of my district was severely impacted by Sandy,” Addabbo said. “And Frank led the charge down there for many of you members to help my people after Sandy. And I don’t mean a month after Sandy, but days, hours after Sandy, Frank was helping my constituents, who are still hurting. So for that I will forever grateful to Frank, so thank you.”

Kotnik was honored by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Councilman Antonio Reynoso with a proclamation, thanking him for his service.

“When I think of G-COP, I think of Frank,” Crowley said. “He’s always been president and the leader, and there is no other organization in the city of New York like G-COP.”

“As the newest member of this elite team here, let me tell you, I just wanted to say, Frank, I think I graduated preschool when you started at G-COP,” Reynoso said, to which the crowd erupted with laughter. “That speaks less of my age and more of his commitment to the mission of G-COP. A lot of people do things in short [stints], but he made a commitment to this community for much longer than that…and I truly want to thank you.”

Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct, Captain Mark Wachter, personally thanked Kotnik for helping to keep the communities he has lived in since he was a child safe for so many years.

“Frank watched out for this community when I was very young,” Wachter said. “Because of Frank and the members of G-COP, this community is still safe. So on that personal level Frank, I thank you.”

Wacther then presented Kotnik with a plaque from the NYPD, thanking him for his years of service.

Among the others that honored Kotnik throughout the evening were representatives from Borough President Melinda Katz’s office, Captain John Travaglia, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, representatives from the 104th Precinct Community Council, and the members of 104COP.

Kotnik thanked everyone for their love and support, now and over the years.

“Thank you, thank you for the support,” Kotnik said. “One thing that was forgotten, I know everyone is saying it was me, but it was ‘we.’ This patrol is always, as far as I’m concerned, is ‘we.’ We were going to do this together…All I can say to everybody, thank you for coming, God bless you all.”


After Queens Library audit findings, Crowley wants new legislation passed

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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

On the heels of the first audit of Queens Library executives in almost 20 years by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley introduced legislation that would require officers of city-funded, nonprofit organizations to disclose any conflicts of interest regarding their income.

After the audit revealed that former Queens Library CEO and President Thomas Galante and current interim CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey had amassed over $310,000 in personal expenses over a three-year period, including $115,000 in taxable, undeclared income, Crowley said it was “vital” to get this piece of legislation heard and ultimately passed.

The bill would mandate all individuals in leadership positions at charitable, city-funded, nonprofit organizations report sources of outside income to the city annually.

“Now that we know more of the discrepancies committed by library executives, it’s important that going forward, we ensure this corruption is stopped before it can begin,” Crowley said. “We the public should be aware of all sources of income and benefits of each executive and close family member. No executive receiving city monies should be immune to these disclosures. In their positions, they should voluntarily assure the city they are acting in accordance with the law.”

This legislation is currently in the City Council Contracts Committee awaiting a hearing in the fall.

“Last year the City Council learned that Tom Galante, president of the Queens Public Library system, spent public dollars for personal use. He continues to be under investigation for that and other irregularities,” said Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, chair of the Contracts Committee. “I applaud Council member Elizabeth Crowley for her leadership to shine light on conflicts of interest involving these executive positions. I am eager to hear her legislation in the Contracts Committee later this year.”


Maspeth could be getting a community athletic field near Newtown Creek

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Ridgewood Times/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The area around Newtown Creek, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes as one of the “nation’s most polluted waterways,” could be the site of a brand-new community athletic field in Maspeth.

During a City Council hearing, Eric Landau, associate commissioner of public affairs for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), testified before the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses, asking for public siting approval on the construction of an aeration facility for Newtown Creek in Maspeth.

The proposed aeration facility is part of a state-mandated effort to improve water quality in Newtown Creek and would be located on 47th Street, near the water’s edge. The facility would help raise oxygen levels in the water and promote wildlife sustainability.

The initial phase of construction leaves approximately one and a half acres of open space on the property, which Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Community Board 5 have expressed interest in converting into an athletic field.

“While it is very important to build this aeration facility for Newtown Creek, it is also important our community take advantage of green space for athletics. I am grateful the DEP has agreed to work with the community to allow for public use of the land,” Crowley said. “In Maspeth, there is a high volume of trucks traveling through the streets. It also has fewer city parks. This lack of green space plus its proximity to the LIE both lead to a higher rate of obesity and asthma compared to neighboring communities.”

“Maspeth residents are disadvantaged in that they lack access to sufficient open green space,” she added. “We can promote sports and physical activity by taking advantage of all public space options, ideally by way of increased access to athletic fields.”

Landau testified to the City Council that the DEP will begin discussions with the community, as well as local athletic groups, about entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding an athletic field on the unused portion of land.

The MOU would state that the sports organizations are responsible for the capital cost of the field as well as the maintenance. Also, if the DEP should ever need the field in the future, upon reasonable notice, the sports organization would need to discontinue operations on the property until any and all construction on the site is complete. Once construction is complete, the site would be handed back over to the community again.

“Understanding that the space may be needed in the future to meet state and federal water quality requirements, DEP is committed to working with the Council and community organizations that are willing to build and maintain the space for athletic purposes, as we have with a soccer league in Manhattan near our North River Waste Water Treatment Plant,” Landau said. “As an immediate next step, we look forward to taking Council member Crowley, local leaders, and other community members on a tour of similar public amenities DEP has constructed, as well as beginning discussions with local athletic groups, identified by [Crowley].”


Councilwoman meets parents over Ridgewood playground problems

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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

After parkgoers raised issues with the conditions at Rosemary’s Playground in Ridgewood, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley met with concerned parents at the playground Friday to hear their plea and see what improvements could be made.

Stephanie Sauer and Caroline Stark formed the group Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground to address the community’s issues with the park. Since its inception, the group has gained over 150 likes on its Facebook page, proving that this issue is a major concern residents who frequent the park.

Approximately 20 parents and residents came out to the park to support the cause and voice their concerns to Crowley. Users of the playground brought up issues concerning the elevated flower beds, the deteriorating playground equipment and what could be done with the open space area of the park that currently has no use.

“The elevated flower beds are our number one issue with the playground,” Sauer said. “Kids climb into the elevated flower bed and we are nervous of the pesticides used in them. Our kids also climb up there and run around. They could fall and hurt themselves.”

Some parents suggested planting shrubs up to the edge of the flower beds so children would not be able to access them, or removing them completely.

“What is the benefit of having these plants?” asked Ben Brown, a resident of the area that uses the playground. “You could use the space better. It’s just wasted space at this point. It’s not providing shade or anything.”

After presenting their concerns, the parents asked Crowley where funding for the proposed changes could be found.

“Things don’t happen overnight in the city,” Crowley told the parents. “Let’s look for funding. Looking for funding is the first step. Then we can start looking at a long-term plan.”

The members of Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground understand that this process will take time and results are not going to be seen immediately.

“We don’t think that things will change tomorrow,” Stark said. “We just want to set a plan in action.”

“We have realistic expectations,” Sauer added. “We don’t expect things to get done tomorrow, or cheaply.”

Now that the issues have been raised, Crowley noted, an expert from the Parks Department needs to inspect the park and determine which changes could be made and how much the changes would cost.

“The next step, before I can move any further is to have professionals come and evaluate the park,” Crowley said. “Having the Parks Department let us know how much it would cost is a good first step.”

Crowley invited the members of Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground to a meeting in July at her office to continue the conversation and see what the next step in the process of getting repairs to the playground.


Pilot program promoting public transportation launched in CB 5 area

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy NYC DOT flickr

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) pilot Go Smart NYC program has launched in the areas of Community Board 5 (CB 5).

Go Smart NYC is designed to increase residents’ use of public transportation, biking, carpooling, or walking in order to reduce the traffic congestion and emissions caused by single-occupancy motor vehicle trips.

The DOT chose CB 5 as the pilot area due to its population, proximity to public transportation options and bike lanes, walkability, as well as its high level of car ownership.

“The congestion and traffic in our communities can sometimes be unbearable. Go Smart NYC plans to alleviate that with the click of a button,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said. “Walking, biking, public transportation and carpooling are all viable urban modes of travel and I look forward to this program’s roll out and working with the DOT to make it as effective as possible for everyone.”

Residents can sign up for the program through the Go Smart NYC website. After registering, participants can order a free, personalized travel toolkit, with information about walking, biking, public transit, carpooling and Vision Zero safety and education materials.

“I am excited that Community Board 5 has been selected for the kickoff to the city’s launch of Go Smart NYC,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “Middle Village, Ridgewood, Maspeth and Glendale are home to a wealth of local businesses, and this program encourages residents to shop and explore these neighborhoods by foot, transit and bike. The more we can walk or use public transit, the better off we will be as a society.”

Registered participants will be able to log their trips online in order to earn discount rewards at over 20 local businesses that are partnering with the DOT to help encourage sustainable travel choices and local shopping. To further enhance residents’ experiences with walking, biking or public transit, the DOT will assist the local community board in installing city benches, city racks, and a real-time bus information sign at an area bus stop.

“The Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) and Ridgewood Local Development Corporation are delighted to be partners for DOT’s new innovative program Go Smart NYC,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue BID. “This is a win-win: increase of residents’ use of public transit, biking, carpooling or just plain walking will reduce traffic congestion. At the same time, it will encourage people to shop locally and support our merchants.”

Go Smart NYC will run in the areas of Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth until November. DOT is also looking at the possibility of expanding the program to other areas of the city in 2016, if the pilot is successful.


City budget tops Glendale Property Owners meeting

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

At the Glendale Property Owners Association’s (GPOA) final meeting before the summer break, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley gave members an update on the city budget on Thursday night at The Shops at Atlas Park.

“We are in the middle of negotiations, as we are every June because we must pass a budget before July first,” Crowley said. “This year the budget has grown to $78 billion. The mayor has proposed $500 million in new programs, but he has a plan to roll over approximately $2 billion into the next fiscal year.”

The City Council’s plans for the budget differ from those of the mayor. For example, the City Council is proposing to hire more police officers.

“[Mayor Bill De Blasio] would like to hire 500 police officers. The Council is calling for 1,000,” Crowley said. “The [Police] Department spends approximately $700 million a year on overtime, which is too much money on overtime. If you had more of a force you would spend straight-time and less overtime if you had the resources to deploy.”

Although the crime in Crowley’s district is low, other areas of the city are seeing a rise in crime, and the legislator believes hiring more police officers would help alleviate such problems around the city.

“In addition to hiring more police officers, I have been working with the mayor to get more resources to improve our emergency medical services,” Crowley said. “The Fire Department runs most of our ambulances in the city, and the response times, especially in Queens, are too high. For life threatening emergencies, it takes over 10 minutes if you look at the past three months, on average, and that’s far too long.”

The councilwoman also touched on some of the city parks that are getting renovations thanks to City Council funds. Frank Principe Park and Juniper Valley Park are both slated to receive renovations to improve their infrastructure.