Tag Archives: District 29

Participatory budgeting extends to more Queens council districts

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photos

Residents in nine Queens City Council districts will be given the power this year to decide where and how their tax dollars will be spent in their communities.

Last spring, community members in three Queens council districts – Councilman Mark Weprin’s District 23, Councilman Donovan Richard’s District 31 and Councilman Eric Ulrich’s District 32 – were given the opportunity to vote on community projects that would benefit from one million dollars of each council member’s capital discretionary funds.

This year joining those three districts are six new Queens council districts including Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras’ District 21, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz’s District 29, Councilman I. Daneek Miller’s District 27, Councilman Paul Vallone’s District 19, Councilman Costa Constantinides’ District 22 and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s District 26.

The overall process begins in the fall when residents suggest ideas and choose budget delegates during public meetings. Those volunteers then develop proposals based on the suggestions which are presented to the public before the voting occurs.

Voting this year will take place between April 11 and April 19 and each voter, ages 16 and up, can chose up to five projects. A total of 24 council members throughout the city are participating in this year’s voting.

“Participatory budgeting has been rewarding for our entire district. This entire process has featured ideas generated by members of the community,” Constantinides said. “It has provided an opportunity for residents to become engaged with the civic process through events and meeting. Everyone has shared their common love of their neighborhood and become more interconnected.”

Projects being voted on in Constantinides’ district include renovations at local schools, such as sound proofing P.S. 122’s cafeteria, redesigning the streetscape on Newtown Avenue between 32nd and 22rd streets to construct a pedestrian plaza, turning unused lots into dog runs in Astoria and Jackson Heights, and renovating the basketball court at the Astoria Houses.

In Councilman Miller’s district, residents will be able to vote on 23 projects which include improvements at local parks, technology upgrades at schools and enhancing cultural facilities such as upgrading the Jamaica Performing Arts Center.

The $1 million in projects that residents in District 19 can vote on include creating a $400,000 state-of-the-art music studio at Bayside High School, funding three NYPD security cameras, and installing real time passenger countdown clocks along the Q12 and Q13 bus routes.

“With a wide range of voting locations throughout northeast Queens, we encourage and hope to see everyone come out and vote for the projects that they believe will have the best impact on the community,” Vallone said.

In District 23, voters can choose projects such as upgrades to the Queens Village and North Hills libraries, fitness equipment at Alley Pond Park, technology upgrades at local schools and portable security cameras at three sites.

Residents in Councilman Ulrich’s district that encompasses Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park can vote on projects such as renovating the Forest Park Dog Park, refurbishing the 9/11 memorial in Forest Park and installing emergency call boxes in Forest Park. For residents living in the councilman’s district in the Rockaway peninsula, projects include a $500,000 repair of center medians along Cross Bay Boulevard, upgrades to local schools, and the construction of a rock climbing wall in Rockaway Beach adjacent to the new boardwalk.

For more information on the projects and where to vote, click here.


Chancellor Walcott urges parental involvement

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor Dennis Walcott will have to rise to many challenges this fall, and he is prepared to do so.

Walcott attended District 29’s Education Town Hall meeting Thursday, September 20, both the district’s and the chancellor’s first town hall meeting of the school year. Walcott took the opportunity to convey his mission and took several questions from concerned parents.

“How do we focus our energy on our students,” asked Walcott, questioning an attentive crowd in the I.S. 238 Susan B. Anthony Academy auditorium.

For the upcoming year, in order to ensure good performance district-wide, Walcott noted a need for heavy parent involvement in their children’s education. New city standards are more demanding than previous years, and in turn, Walcott says that parents should demand more of themselves.

“Tests will be more difficult than ever before,” he said. “All of us should make sure we are collectively working together for our students.”

Walcott, who attended school in District 29 and whose grandson currently does as well, said he has a “special interest” in the area, and wants to make sure students and also teachers are prepared to meet the new standards.

The chancellor also tended to parents and their concerns, which ranged from overcrowding solutions to a need for physical fitness programs.

Bellerose’s P.S./I.S. 208 in particular, according to parents, has a severe overcrowding problem, averaging 38 students per class.

Walcott said that since the school year is still very new, registers determining class sizes will not be complete until later in the season. Once those numbers are received, if there is still a problem, it will be addressed by the DOE.

As a solution to overcrowding, Walcott proposed the creation of new schools. He advocated having the options of charter schools, single sex schools and public schools, believing that students will respond better to a variety of choices.

“Our goal is to create high quality schools. We have a responsibility to serve the students,” said the chancellor.