Tag Archives: James A. Bland Houses

Former Knicks forward Larry Johnson greets players at Flushing basketball tournament


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Councilmember Peter Koo sponsored a basketball tournament Saturday morning in Flushing, which highlighted a guest appearance by two-time NBA all-star and former Knicks forward Larry Johnson.

The third annual Bland Basketball Tournament featured matches with young children, high school players and adults. The goal of the tournament is to bring more players and attention to the basketball court of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) James A. Bland Houses, which are in need of repair.

“I think [basketball] is a good sport. It builds team spirit and this is what America is about, working as a team,” Koo said. “As councilmembers we like to help the community, especially what they call ‘the disadvantaged.’”

Koo donated t-shirts and trophies to the tournament and called Madison Square Garden, which owns the team, to have the former NBA Rookie of the Year Johnson make an appearance.

Johnson, who averaged 16.2 points per game and 7.5 rebounds during an 10-year career with the Charlotte Hornets and Knicks, was also the John R. Wooden awardee during the 1990-91 season, which is given to the most outstanding player in college basketball. Johnson met the kids and took pictures, then he did the tip off to start the matches.

“With everything going on in New York we just want to fill the courts,” Johnson said. “It means a lot to me; it warms the heart.”

Because the courts are part of the Bland Houses, the jurisdiction falls under NYCHA and not the Parks Department.

Koo has been in touch with the housing authority to get the park revitalized, repainted and fix the court’s slant. He plans to fund the renewal, but is waiting for NYCHA to examine the cost to upgrade the courts. With a revitalized court residents hope more people from the Bland Houses will use it, instead of going elsewhere.

Craig Kinsey, president of the James A. Bland Resident’s Association, said Koo has been instrumental in organizing the tournament and supporting the court revitalization, and has hope that the courts will be upgraded soon.

“It’s very important when you could put a suit and tie on and still talk to regular folk,” Kinsey said of Koo. “I can always count on him.”

 

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Unhappy Housing Authority residents offered payment plan for new parking spots


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rory Lancman

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is offering an installment plan to ease parking rate hikes on burdened drivers.

“Increases are a way of life, but if it’s falling on the residents, at least give us ample time to prepare for this increase,” said Craig Kinsey, president of the James A. Bland Resident Association. “Not to give these residents enough time to pay—it was totally unheard of, insensitive and immoral.”

NYCHA increased parking costs this year for residents paying for unreserved spaces. Costs went up to $265 for most drivers, $212 for seniors and a whopping $500 for on-site employees.

NYCHA spokesperson Zodet Negrón the agency is getting rid of unreserved parking lots and changing them to reserved ones starting May 1.

She said the shift, which will designate a specific spot for each driver, will improve safety and make enforcement easier.

Conversion plans were released last December, with notifications reaching residents in March and April, according to the agency. But residents in the borough’s two NYCHA houses said authorities did not give them enough time to make payments.

“My son is going to college. I’m paying deposit fees for tuition, deposit fees for room and board,” said Monica Corbett, president of the Pomonok Residents Association. “I’d be stuck if I had to choose between my son’s education and parking fees. I’d be parking on the street.”

Drivers in 43 developments throughout the city now have the option to pay in four installments instead of in full.

The first payment is due April 30.

The installment plan is only available this year for residents who have not yet paid the lump sum.

“It’s better than paying all at once,” Corbett said. “It’s a new avenue for the Housing Authority. But sometimes when you don’t include the major stakeholders, things get lost in translation.”

NYCHA began a new partnership with Greystone Parking Services in March. The payment plan was offered “in response to concerns expressed by many residents,” a spokesperson said.

Kinsey lambasted the agency, saying NYCHA should have included residents in earlier discussions.

“You put a band aid on the wound, but the wound is there,” he said. “We’re working check by check like every other individual who is two checks away from being homeless. These are not objects. These are people that you’re dealing with.”

 

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