Tag Archives: Jackson Heights Green Alliance

Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights lights up for the holidays


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Councilmember Daniel Dromm's Office

Councilmember Daniel Dromm gathered with State Senator Jose Peralta, the nonprofit SUKHI NY, Moin Choudhury of Association for Justice Inc., Friends of Diversity Plaza and local residents at Diversity Plaza, located at 37th Road between 73rd and 74th Streets in Jackson Heights on Sunday to light the plaza’s 16-foot holiday tree.

The Friends of Diversity Plaza includes members from the office of Councilmember Daniel Dromm, the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership and the Birchwood House.

“I want to thank everyone for pulling together to make this space better each year,” said Dromm. “The second annual tree lighting was a success.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The Queens Morning Roundup logo.

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast. High of 68. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy with a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 48. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the North after midnight. Chance of rain 50%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Quality-of-Life Town Hall with Assemblymemeber Francisco Moya and the Jackson Heights Green Alliance

Assemblymember Francisco Moya and the Jackson Heights Green Alliance will host a Town Hall featuring a panel comprised of representatives from an array of city agencies, state agencies and community groups. The event will provide Jackson Heights residents with the opportunity to address these representatives on a wide range of issues and discuss ways in which quality of life in the community can be improved. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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‘Green’ at the center of debate on Willets project


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

Willets Point might be making headway to become a destination for shopping and entertainment in the borough, but many either living or working near there are pointing out that the project could have negative effects on the surrounding area.

The Jackson Heights Green Alliance (JHGA) held an emergency meeting on Monday, October 1 to speak out against the parkland that would be lost be several projects planned around and within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. This includes the development of Willets Point and the parking lot to the left of Citi Field, Willets West; renovation and expansion of the U.S. Tennis Center; and talks of a possible Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium where what is currently Industry Pond sits.

Donovan Finn, a professor of urban planning at Stony Brook University and JHGA board member, said the actual green space in the park was already significantly less than what is actually billed for the borough’s largest park. Factoring in facility buildings, water, walkways and other items, there are only 333 acres of actual green space, Finn said.

“I think it’s reasonable that when all is said and done in 20 years, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which the Parks Department claims is 1,200-and-some acres, usable green space [will be] 250 acres,” Finn said. “No one would be proposing these projects in Prospect Park and Central Park. They never have and they never will.”

Talks about a possible soccer stadium at Flushing Meadows were met with disapproval from residents in attendance. Finn said a stadium, which if constructed would hold around 25,000 spectators, would be the wrong solution to clean up the area around, and including, Industry Pond.

“I would argue it’s a heavily utilized part of the park,” he said. “They’re not taking over the whole park, I admit that, but this is not the kind of use that we need.”

Many of these concerns, among others, were brought before the city at a September 27 court-mandated scoping hearing for the Willets Point project. Residents, advocates and workers voiced concerns over traffic effects, the legalities of the project and the displacement of thousands of jobs, blaming these problems on several agencies.

The hearing was designed to create a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement(SEIS) to study a number of factors that might have changed since the General Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) that was filed in 2008, because parameters of the project have changed. The study will look at items ranging from potential transit issues, effects to businesses within half a mile and possible hazardous materials, according to officials.

Because the Citi Field parking lot — most of which will become Willets West — is technically parkland, some civic representatives alleged the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) had bypassed rules for parkland alienation.

Cristyne Nicholas, a spokesperson for the Joint Venture at Willets Point, noted that the development to the north of the park was separate from any expansion at the Tennis Center, or talks for a stadium within the park. And while the parking lot is technically parkland, Nicholas said the end result would great more green space within Willets, with the construction of recreational and open space areas.

“The Willets Point redevelopment will first and foremost clean 23 acres of contaminated land,” she said. “The Willets Point project will not in any way reduce the availability of open space within Flushing Meadows Corona Park. In fact, the project will increase open space for the community by building off-season recreational uses and five acres of additional open space on the Willets Point land.”

Christina Wilkinson, representing Communities of Maspeth and Elmurst Together, said there were several state parks polices needed to be addressed before Willets West could carry on.

“The developers of this project are not entitled to circumvent the parkland alienation process and the involvement of the State Parks Department in this matter,” she said. “The city never originally proposed that parkland would be involved in the Willets Point development, and the developers doing so at this late date does not provide any excuse to avoid the alienation process.”

Benjamin Branham, the NYCEDC’s vice president for external affairs, said the hearing would help guide the project moving forward and fully understand what needs to be done to get the Willets project off the ground.

“[The] public hearing for the proposed Willets Point redevelopment plan marked an important first step in the approvals process for this transformative project that will clean up dozens of acres of toxic land and create thousands of jobs for Queens residents,” he said. “We are grateful for the significant turnout, strong enthusiasm and extensive engagement from the community on this critical project, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue we move forward.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 70. Breezy. Winds from the West at 15 to 20 mph. Monday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then overcast. Low of 59. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT of the DAY: On the Waterfront

Come to the Greater Astoria Historical Society for the exhibit and lecture On the Waterfront, where you’ll learn about the history and future of Long Island City’s and Astoria’s waterfront. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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Another big Supreme Court term starts Monday

he Supreme Court is starting a new term that is shaping up to be as important as the last one, with the prospect of major rulings about affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights. Read more: AP

 

Jackson Heights to get more park space


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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Officials and civic groups from Jackson Heights, a neighborhood parched for play space, have persuaded the city to purchase a school yard and turn it into a park.

The Jackson Heights Green Alliance, along with the help of Councilmember Daniel Dromm and the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, acquired a 2,600-square-foot patch of asphalt from the Garden School, nearly doubling the area’s amount of park space.

“Jackson Heights has a critical shortage of park space,” said Dudley Stewart, president of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance. “It is dramatically underserved.”

When the Jackson Heights Green Alliance discovered the Garden School was looking to sell its lot to a private developer in February 2011, it stepped up and threw in a bid. Shortly after, the Grow a Park Campaign formed, fighting for open space in the neighborhood. With monetary assistance from private foundations and nearly half a million dollars in pledges, the group purchased the Garden School’s lot.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm has eyed the spot for a possible park ever since Jackson Heights was ranked second to last in park space out of the 51 council districts citywide in a New Yorkers for Parks study published in 2009.

“I feel it’s a promise fulfilled,” said Dromm. “When I came into office I immediately began to think about how to create more green space. I promised the community we would have to think out of the box.”

This newly-bought space is adjacent to 78th Street Play Street – a car-free zone open for play during the summer months. For the fourth year in a row, 78th Street between 34th Avenue and Northern Boulevard will be transformed into an open area for kids and adults alike.

“It’s almost double the space between the lot and the play street,” said Stewart. “It’s a huge benefit. It’s not just for families with kids, it’s for the entire community.”

The Jackson Heights Green Alliance recently won the Department of Transportation’s public plaza program which designs and constructs permanent, year-round parks. According to Stewart, this marks the first time in the program’s history that the grant has been awarded to a civic group rather than a Business Improvement District.

Stewart says the next step is to install a fence around the space so the public can access it freely. During school hours, the Garden School will retain exclusive access. During the rest of the year, it will be open to the entire community.

“We hope it’s going to be great,” said Stewart. “We’ve got our fingers crossed.”