Tag Archives: Governor Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo announces $37M in projects to keep LaGuardia from flooding


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

After Sandy forced LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to close last year for three days, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced $37.5 million in storm mitigation and resiliency projects to protect important infrastructure from future flooding.

“Sandy forced us to reevaluate how we prepare for and respond to major natural disasters in New York,” said Cuomo. “The question is not if another storm will hit, but when, and the state is doing everything it can to ensure that New York’s infrastructure is strong and durable when the time comes.”

Last year during Sandy, LGA’s airfield was flooded by more than 100 million gallons of water from Flushing Bay, causing the airport to cease commercial flight operations for three days. The surge flooded the five high-capacity pump houses which the airport depended on to drain any water.

The five projects announced by the governor include the installation of flood barrier raised banks around the West Field Lighting Vault, which houses runway and taxiway lighting systems, and construction of a concrete flood wall around the West End Substation that is key to powering the airfield systems.

The other projects feature construction of two gravity drains that will release storm water into Flushing Bay, replacement of existing generators with bigger and more efficient emergency back-up generators, and restoration of LGA’s monitoring and control system, to allow the airport to quickly monitor and deal with any issues with its electrical distribution system.

“Projects like these will significantly improve flood protection and electrical resiliency at LaGuardia and throughout the state,” said Cuomo. “New York State government is working every day to build back better than before.”

Federal funds are expected to cover $28.1 million of the total project costs.

 

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Cuomo veto fast-tracks aircraft noise studies


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down a Senate bill last week and instead demanded the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey conduct a noise study and establish a community roundtable.

The governor vetoed a two-state bill last Wednesday that would have required the authority to determine the effects of aircraft noise with a one-time noise and land use compatibility study at all five Port Authority airports.

The legislation, passed by the New York State Legislature, would have needed approval from both Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Cuomo’s veto bypasses the need for New Jersey’s companion legislation and directs the Port Authority to meet with the community and conduct noise studies at LaGuardia and JFK Airports.

“I recognize that aircraft noise has been a concern for residents of Queens County and Nassau County,” Cuomo wrote in his veto note.

The push for noise control comes after the Federal Aviation Administration approved a new flight pattern last December that brought on a barrage of low-flying planes over parts of northeast Queens.

“Residents living among the highest air traffic in the country should have every opportunity to present their views to the appropriate authorities and a vehicle to gather information and hold people accountable,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

 

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Cuomo, Gillibrand back Paul Vallone in District 19 race


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand endorsed Democratic City Council candidate Paul Vallone for District 19 Wednesday.

Cuomo said Vallone could carry the legacy of his family.

“I have known the Vallone family for decades and admire their contributions of public service to the City of New York,” the governor said in a statement. “In my mind, there is no question that Paul Vallone is the right man for the job.”

 

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QueensWay study moving forward


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association

Over three miles of abandoned railway could become the much-debated, yet eagerly anticipated, QueensWay Park for the borough.

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land introduced a design team on Tuesday, August 20 set to study the 3.5-mile greenway that was once the Rockaway Beach LIRR line, running from Rego Park to Ozone Park.

If approved and the project moves forward, the QueensWay would be double the size of Manhattan’s High Line, The Courier reported in December.

The year-long study, starting after Labor Day, will be conducted by WXY architecture + urban design and dlandstudio and will look at a variety of ways to convert the abandoned rail line into parkland, including engineering requirements, environmental impact and community feedback.

“The QueensWay is going to be New York’s next great park,” said Marc Matsil, New York state director of the Trust for Public Land. “Our mission is to protect land for people, and this is a perfect fit with that goal.”

The walkway will connect multiple communities and provide green space for 250,000 people in the borough, said Trust for Public Land officials. Art, sculptures and food from around the world will also be included.

Jack Friedman, Queens Chamber of Commerce executive director, said this initiative will provide a “much-needed boost” to the borough’s economy and local businesses.

The study will be funded by a $467,000 grant from Governor Andrew Cuomo as well as $140,000 from the Department of Environmental Protection and private donors.
However, not everybody is on board with the study, or the QueensWay itself.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder said he believes local residents would greatly benefit from “a complete restoration of the Rockaway Beach Line.”

“I am confident that any objective study regarding the best use for the abandoned rail line will conclude that a transportation option is the only real choice,” he said. “The current lack of public transit options in Queens is strangling our businesses and hurting our families.”

 

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Law to alert community boards about contaminated site cleanups


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of State Senator Tony Avella

The state is set to begin notifying community boards when cleanups of contaminated land are planned in their areas.

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently approved a bill that would make the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) responsible for alerting community boards of brownfield site cleanups.

Quoting Public Law, the DEC defines a brownfield as “any real property, the redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a contaminant.” Brownfields can include industrial sites or abandoned gas stations with hazardous waste or petroleum.

The DEC currently notifies adjacent property owners, nearby schools and local newspapers in the event of a cleanup. There is a 30-day public comment period after a cleanup request is made.

Under the new law, residents who attend their community board’s monthly meetings will be given more time to develop a comment before scheduled public hearings.

State Senator Tony Avella, who sponsored the bill, said the advanced warning is needed because significant environmental brownfield cleanup projects often lead to large developments that can affect locals.

“Community boards are our first line of defense in protecting our quality of life,” said Assemblymember Ed Braunstein, who introduced the law.

The cleanup of the Waterpointe-Whitestone brownfield site sparked the legislation, lawmakers said. Community Board 7, which represents the area, said it was never informed of the initial cleanup application.

“Providing board members with information about brownfield sites will ensure that the community has eyes and ears on the ground to make certain that all remediation is done appropriately,” Braunstein said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Mostly cloudy with thunderstorms and a chance of rain. High of 81. Winds from the SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Monday night: Mostly cloudy with thunderstorms and a chance of rain. Low of 72. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Saturday Night Fever

Come to Astoria Park at 8:30 p.m. for a free screening of the movie “Saturday Night Fever.”  Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Package of beauty supplies triggers police, FBI response at JFK

Police and federal agents responded to JFK Airport’s postal facility after two customs agents reported a strange odor coming from a package Sunday, officials said. Read more: NBC New York

Quinn aims to raise the legal dropout age to make sure that a legal adult is making the decision

Kids would be legally barred from dropping out of high school until they turn 18 under a proposal announced Sunday by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Read more: New York Daily News 

New York State cracks down on speeders, other traffic violators

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced a weeklong crackdown targeting speeders and aggressive drivers around the state. Read more: CBS New York 

Poll: most New Yorkers embarrassed by Weiner, Spitzer

Even most New Yorkers watching Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer in political races dominated by their sex scandals want to forget about it. Read more: AP

Holder: Some drug offenders shouldn’t face mandatory minimum sentences

Attorney General Eric Holder is directing federal prosecutors to change they way they file charges for some drug crimes, to reduce the number of convictions for offenses that carry inflexible, mandatory minimum sentences. Read more: NBC New York

 

200 homes in Bayside, Flushing file airplane noise complaints last month


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Almost all the noise complaints filed last month at three major airports came from Queens, according to data obtained by The Courier.

More than 700 calls about airplane noise flooded LaGuardia Airport this June, while 348 grievances came in about John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to statistics from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Out of 1,061 total complaints that poured in last month, only 18 complaints were made to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

The complaints came from almost 200 homes in Queens, mostly in Flushing and Bayside, according to Port Authority data collected June 1-30.

About 500 complaints to LaGuardia were from those neighborhoods, with a majority of calls coming from residents near Travis Triangle and Bowne Park.

Residents from across the Queens border in nearby Floral Park made most of the complaints to JFK, a total of 200.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a new flight pattern last December, much to the dismay of residents who say the procedure causes nonstop noise from low-flying planes.

The Port Authority and the FAA said they expect upcoming projects to reduce noise.

Representatives from both agencies addressed the Queens Borough President’s Aviation Advisory Council on July 22.

They said plans to soon rebuild and modernize the Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia would allow for larger planes on the runways. With more passengers per plane, that would mean fewer aircraft in the sky.

Officials also said by 2016, airports will be mandated to only use planes with engine sound-absorbing designs.

Planes going in and out of New York airports, with the exception of corporate aircraft, are currently “Stage 3” planes. The designation means engines are moved further into the interior of the plane to lessen noise.

Propellers are also shaped to deaden sound.

Barbara Brown, chair of the Eastern Queens Alliance, said larger planes would not be helpful.

“Even if flights are getting quieter, that won’t mean anything if there are more flights taking place in general,” she said.

Port Authority officials said they are also in the process of replacing 22 noise monitoring terminals and should be done by spring 2014.

They added that a public website will soon launch for people to monitor noise decibel readings and file noise complaints.

U.S. Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and multiple congressmembers from the city and Long Island have called for more action. They recently sent a letter to Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye urging his agency to create an airport advisory committee.

“It is simple common sense to say that the largest metropolitan area in the country should have an airport advisory committee like the one we are proposing,” Schumer said, “a body that would help increase quality of life for locals.”

The New York state legislature passed a bill this year that would require the Port Authority to conduct a one-time study to determine the effects of aircraft noise on Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Jersey residents.

It awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature in New York and ultimately needs New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s approval as well.

Additional reporting by Johann Hamilton

 

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Cuomo passes bill to make rebuilding easier for Breezy Point residents


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sullivan & Galleshaw, LLP

Sandy left 135 homes incinerated and hundreds more damaged by flooding. Governor Andrew Cuomo passed a bill on Thursday, July 10 that will allow affected residents to waive the Board of Standard and Appeals (BSA) process and allow them to rebuild immediately.

“Before today, Breezy Point residents faced the prospect of waiting up to a year for approval to rebuild homes devastated during Sandy,” Cuomo said. “Signing this law [gives] these New Yorkers an easier way forward as they continue to restore their homes and neighborhoods.”

Breezy Point does not have street frontage. Instead, there are sandy pathways throughout the community. Due to this unique layout, many building and homeowners who hoped to reconstruct were previously required to file for a special permit through the BSA.

The BSA process can take as long as 18 months to complete, said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, who drafted the legislation.

“Now it’s a simple building process,” he said. “They won’t have to worry about the lengthy, bureaucratic BSA process.”

Those looking to rebuild will submit a permit to the city Department of Buildings and “once the permit is approved by this single agency, building is permissible,” Goldfeder said.

“Now, rather than spend the summer swimming in a sea of red tape, we can start rebuilding the hundreds of homes tragically lost during Sandy,” said Arthur Lighthall, Breezy Point resident and president of the Breezy Point Co-Op. “If there is one thing that Breezy Point has shown time and time again, it is that we are a resilient community. We will rebuild and come back stronger than before.”

 

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Cuomo signs tougher texting-while-driving law


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation into law strengthening texting-while-driving penalties for young and new drivers.

“Statistic after statistic shows that texting-while-driving is a chronic problem in our society, particularly among teenagers, and it will only get worse if we do not take action to prevent this deadly behavior,” said Cuomo. “That is what this law will do: it will make drivers of all ages think twice before taking their eyes off the road to answer a message on their phone.”

The new law will apply to probationary license holders, those who passed their test within the last six months and junior license holders, drivers under 18 who have some license restrictions.

For the first conviction, probationary and junior licenses will be suspended for 60 days. If there is another violation within six months of the license being restored, probationary licenses will be revoked for six months and junior licenses for 60 days.

Those are the same penalties probationary and junior licenses holders receive for speeding and reckless driving.

When Cuomo proposed the legislation, he also directed the state DMV to increase penalties for texting-while-driving for all drivers starting the weekend of June 1. He asked the New York State Police to increase enforcement of the texting-while-driving ban during the summer.

Under the order, the DMV increased the number of points earned on a person’s driving record from three to five if they are convicted of texting-while-driving and other cell-phone related violations.

 

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Pols push for two-state study of airplane noise


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Airport operators have become the target of the latest localized effort to quiet Queens skies.

The state legislature has passed a bill that would require the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to conduct a one-time study to determine the effects of aircraft noise on Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Jersey residents.

“With this study on aircraft noise, we can best determine the use of certain runways and flight paths and use federal funding to solve this serious issue,” said Assemblymember Edward Ra, who represents parts of Nassau County.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a new flight pattern last December, much to the dismay of residents who say the procedure causes nonstop noise from low-flying planes.

The bill would require the bi-state authority to submit its findings to both state legislatures by next June, depending on when it is enacted.

It awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature in New York and ultimately needs Governor Chris Christie’s approval in New Jersey, though it was only introduced in the New Jersey Senate last month.

“We’re confident that if we get this study done, it will prove that there is a significant impact on our communities and the FAA and Port Authority will be required to find measures to remediate this problem,” said Assemblymember Ed Braunstein.

The legislation would also require the Port Authority — which operates five hubs in New York and New Jersey, including John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia Airports — to hold biennial public hearings.

“It is about time that all the communities that are affected stand up and say to the FAA and the Port Authority, ‘We’re not going to take it anymore,’’ said State Senator Tony Avella. “We may live by the airports, but when we all moved here, the air traffic was nothing like it is now.”

The FAA has since formed a committee to review its decision-making process, officials announced in May, and has agreed to hear out impacted communities.

Politician pushing for tax-free Jamaica


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Downtown Jamaica could be included in a tax exemption program that stands to give an economic boost to the area around York College.

Governor Andrew Cuomo created and passed a program that installed tax-free zones in designated area around SUNY campuses. When State Senator Malcolm Smith caught wind of the new venture, he proposed getting Queens in on the action.

“A university or school can be the center for economic development for a neighborhood,” he said. “York College is the center of southeast Queens.”

The program, Start-Up NY, aims to bring revenue to communities in need by giving unprecedented exemptions from sales, property, state and corporate taxes for 10 years. It also includes exemptions from state personal income taxes for employees in newly created jobs.

If Smith’s proposal is passed, York College could apply to sponsor a tax-free zone around it. Among the criteria for a neighborhood to gain the special status, it has to have the highest poverty rate out of all college neighborhoods in the borough. The York College community has a roughly 20 percent poverty rate, slightly higher than any other college community in Queens.

The initiative is designed with an eye to attracting businesses that can enhance employment opportunities for students and graduates. Retail outlets and real estate firms will not be eligible to participate, while fiber optics companies and other high tech ventures are sought.

“These are very powerful incentives,” Smith said. “If properly applied, they could be transformative for York and economically regenerative for Jamaica.”

Smith has engaged in talks with Dr. Marcia Keizs, president of York College, to execute this economic vision. The legislator said he has “no doubt” Cuomo will approve the proposal.

“There is a strong community presence and involvement in the program,” he said, “because that’s what’s going to make it exceptional and transparent.”

 

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State Legislature restores cuts for disabled services


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

It was a reversal of fortune.

A $120 million cut to the Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) would have left programs shorthanded, officials said. But the state legislature eliminated the threat and voted unanimously to fully restore what was lost.

The Assembly voted last week to appropriate $90 million for OPWDD. That was in addition to $30 million already restored during the budget process. The Senate approved the funds the next day.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic, an OPWDD advocate, has worked closely with organizations such as the Queens Centers for Progress and said the need for services is “enormous.”

“There’s no reason to penalize this community, their families and their caretakers,” she said.
When the cuts were officially made earlier this year, Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder said the hardest part in passing the budget was accepting the OPWDD reductions.

“After passing the budget, we committed to doing whatever necessary to restore it,” he said. “This affects real people and real jobs.”

Goldfeder said he has seen firsthand how the cuts affect the disabled and their families even though he has been chair of the Autism Retention Committee for just a few months.

“It’s painful,” he said. “There’s no better role for the government to protect its citizens than the restoration of these cuts.”

The total $120 million restoration will go directly to facilities that provide services to the developmentally disabled, Goldfeder said.

Although the restoration went through, OPWDD funds still need to be increased in order to provide the best care, officials said. After an initial cut several years ago, OPWDD has seen no increase in funding.

However, Goldfeder said last week’s budget reversal was just a first step, and that there is a bright economic outlook for the future.

“This is the first place we have to look to restore a lot of the cuts that have taken place over the years,” he said.

 

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State gaming agreement leaves Queens out of casino deal


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators have come to an agreement on a gaming deal that would effectively put four casinos upstate and leave Queens without one for now.

There is a seven-year hold on increasing the number of New York casinos, according to Cuomo’s office. After that, the entire state is up for grabs pending new legislation.

This leaves Resorts World Casino New York City out of the running to become a Las Vegas-style casino with full table games, as some Queens officials had hoped.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose district includes the Racino and Aqueduct, said on Wednesday, June 19 that he was still reviewing the bill before it enters the Senate and Assembly for votes. His top concern, he said, was how it would affect his district.

“I’m still going through it because I need to look at the whole bill in its entirety,” he said. “My first priority is my district.”

He added that constituents might not necessarily venture upstate for gaming, but could cross the border to Connecticut or New Jersey instead.

“If they’re going to just have some entertainment, they’re basically going to stay local,” he said.
Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder also opposed Cuomo’s original plan, which barred downstate casinos. He said he is still reviewing the bill and is hopeful Resorts World could become a full casino.

“I’m still going through the bill to determine the rest of the merit, if it’s something I can vote for,” he said. “New York City is in the running in the seven years. They’re on an equal footing as everyone else in seven years.”

Along with colleagues and business leaders, Addabbo and Goldfeder argued that if the referendum passes, Resorts World could be a fully operational casino as soon as January. They said an expanded wagering facility would have led to 1,000 jobs along with stimulating the economy in the area.

Cuomo has pushed for upstate casinos, which are expected to boost tourism, since his State of the State address earlier this year. Throughout negotiations, his goal was to make sure full casinos come to upstate New York first.

“Today’s agreement with the Legislature would establish world-class destination gaming resorts to attract tourists to Upstate New York, generating economic activity for local businesses and creating thousands of good paying jobs where we need it most,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) similar to those at Resorts World will also expand in the state. Nassau and Suffolk Counties are possible sites. According to the governor’s office, the number of VLTs could increase if the November referendum cannot pass in order to make up for revenue expected from full casinos.

 

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Upstate casino bill could stop plan for full gaming at Resorts World


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Resorts-002

It could be no dice for full gaming at Resorts World Casino New York City if a new bill in Albany goes through.

A full gaming bill would allow games such as blackjack, roulette and poker to be legal in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan, the Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act, calls for three upstate casinos if the referendum is passed by voters in November. A downstate casino — anything south of Putnam and Rockland Counties — would have to wait until the first upstate one has opened five years from now.

Queens legislators have said if New York City is left out, it would kill 1,000 expected jobs and an economic boost for south Queens.

Cuomo first introduced the idea during his State of the State address this January. It was part of a push for more upstate tourism.

The legislature has until June 20 to negotiate and pass the bill through both the Senate and Assembly before ending for the summer.

Cuomo emphasized his priorities on WNYC’s “Capitol Pressroom” on Tuesday, June 11.

“That’s about the upstate economy,” he said. “We’re trying to keep the emphasis on upstate.”

Queens legislators and business leaders held a press conference on May 28 calling for a “fair share” in the gaming bill.

They argued that Resorts World could expand by January 2014 if voters approve gaming this November.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, whose district includes the Racino, said the area needs jobs and further economic activity in the wake of Sandy. He contends that expanding gaming at Resorts World would give the needed push.

“I think that [the bill]’s a good starting point, but I don’t see how I can support a bill that doesn’t recognize the need for job creation in southern Queens and Rockaway,” he said. “Since Sandy, Queens is even more in need of the economic boost that the casino will provide. I’m hopeful the governor will recognize that as well.”

State Senator John Bonacic, chair of the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, has been supportive of Resorts World becoming a full casino if the bill is passed. He called for the governor to change the gaming plan to include Queens and put the kibosh on any ideas for a casino in Nassau County.

Bonacic has proposed a bill that would establish upstate casinos before granting two casinos to Queens or Westchester County between 2019 and 2021.

“Long Islanders and New York City residents are open to gaming in Queens, as the success of the Aqueduct VLT [Video Lottery Terminal] casino has shown,” Bonacic said.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo said he could not support Cuomo’s bill in its current form. If Cuomo’s bill passes both chambers, Addabbo said voters might not support a plan that leaves the city out.

“The people vote no,” he said, “This whole thing comes down like a house of cards.”

 

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