Tag Archives: Jimmy Van Bramer

Dangerous Sunnyside intersection prompts DOT study


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

A transit advocacy group is moving to make changes to a hazardous Sunnyside intersection.

Representatives from the Queens Committee of Transportation Alternatives say the juncture of Borden Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue, running above the Long Island Expressway, is perilous for pedestrians and cyclists due to unclear markings and poorly-timed traffic signals.

“Frankly, it’s an absolute nightmare,” said Transportation Alternatives member Steve Scofield, who rides his bike through the intersection frequently. “There really is no safe way for a pedestrian or cyclist to get through the intersection safely.”

Many northbound cyclists choose to navigate the intersection illegally to optimize safety, crossing Greenpoint Avenue and riding against traffic on the southbound side. Scofield said it’s safer for bike rides to move in the opposite direction rather than be at the mercy of drivers with limited visibility. Nearly half of cyclists who cross the intersection use this method.

According to Streetsblog.com, a cyclist was struck and killed by a livery cab at the intersection in April 2012.

The driver of the cab was not charged with any crime. According to CrashStat.org, since 1998 there have been four accidents at the crossing, all of which resulted in injuries.

In order to create a safer intersection, Scofield wants to implement protected left signals and shared lanes for bikes and cars; convert Hunters Point Boulevard into a westbound one-way street; and add more lights for cyclists and pedestrians.

In August 2012, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer sent a letter to then Queens DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy, alerting her to the traffic calming measures needed at this intersection.

“This daunting intersection has had a history of accidents in recent years due to a lack of the appropriate traffic light timing and issues with speed control,” said Van Bramer. “These hazards have put the lives of pedestrians, motorists and cyclists in danger and action must be taken before another life is lost. ”

According to a spokesperson from the Department of Transportation (DOT), the agency will conduct a study on the intersection based on Community Board 2’s recommendations.

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What City Council members wish for their constituents in 2013


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

2013

The Queens Courier asked the City Council what they wish for their constituents in 2013. Here are some of the responses:

Speaker Christine Quinn: To help New Yorkers still reeling from Sandy recover fully and quickly, & rebuild New York City to protect New Yorkers from the impact of climate change.

Daniel Dromm: To see comprehensive immigration reform including the Uniting American Families Act (for families headed by same sex couples) and the Dream Act passed by Congress in 2013.

Mark Weprin: My New Year’s wish for my constituents is that a bipartisan spirit will appear in Washington, leading to fiscal sanity and sensible gun laws.

James Gennaro: They should have good health, the comfort and peace of a strong faith, abiding happiness, freedom from want and love and compassion for others.

Jimmy Van Bramer: I wish for my constituents a healthy and happy year full of joy and with far fewer tragedies. I want more understanding and appreciation of our uniqueness as people, a safer world at home and abroad.

Peter Vallone Jr.: I hope for the Queensboro Bridge back, and I hope other boroughs keep their hands off of our stuff.

Eric Ulrich: Health, happiness, and prosperity in the new year and a return to normalcy for those affected by Sandy.

Karen Koslowitz: I wish all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I am hoping that the year 2013 brings new opportunities, friendships and successes for all.

Dan Halloran: I wish my constituents a New Year full of peace, prosperity and a renewed sense of pride in our neighborhoods, as we continue to preserve our community’s character.

Leroy Comrie: I hope that we have a healthy, happy, prosperous, and protective new year. Also that people stay charitable, that we can continue to look out for each other and be supportive of those in need.

 

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Queens businesses fear 7 subway suspension may hurt profits


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

Once more, western Queens business owners could potentially say goodbye to a profitable winter.

The No. 7 line weekend service between Queens and Manhattan is being suspended until the end of March, and many area business owners fear that this will affect the influx of customers they usually get.

The award-winning Chocolate Factory Theater in Long Island City is just one of the many organizations expecting a severe blow to their business this season.

“We [will be] unable to commission work, to present work,” said Sheila Lewandowski of the theater company. “If our audience can’t get here, what are we saying to our artists?”

The Chocolate Factory planned four shows for the coming winter months, and is expecting around 5,000 people to attend. They have artists coming in from all over the world, and, according to Lewandowski, artists who have been preparing for these shows for years.

“The No. 7 train is part of the ticket,” said Lewandowski, who fears that without the subway line, artists will have a difficult time getting to the theater, or that the number of attendees will significantly decrease.

Lewandowski also said that, had they been informed of the closures a month or two ago, shows could have been rescheduled. But, with the two weeks’ notice that the MTA gave, nothing can be done.

“Millions of people are disadvantaged and inconvenienced,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “The people of Queens are being disrespected.”

Until March 25, the MTA will be working on tunnel, signal and track maintenance in the Steinway Tunnel, which connects Queens to Manhattan, and will replace tracks between the Court Square and Queensboro Plaza stations.

Van Bramer held a press conference on Friday, December 28, the day that marked the beginning of the closures, in front of the bustling Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue train stop. He was joined by fellow Councilmember Peter Koo and area business owners, all protesting the MTA changes.

“If I seem a little angry, I am,” said Van Bramer. “Year after year this is too much to bear.”

In 2010, the No. 7 line was suspended for 12 weekends, and again for five weekends this past fall.

On December 8, Community Board 2 received a letter from the MTA, detailing the weekend closures. According to Van Bramer, there was no discussion or opportunity for input, simply a: “this is how it is, so deal with it.”

Going forward, the councilmember intends to work with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the rest of the Council to urge the MTA to change course, and also advises that residents sign an online petition, on the City Council website, and also protest via social media.

For alternate service, straphangers can use the E, F, N and Q lines. On Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Q will be extended to Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard. Additionally, free shuttle buses will operate between the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue and Queensboro Plaza stations during those weekends.

-With additional reporting by Cristabelle Tumola

Sunnyside grocery store to close after lease dispute


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF COUNCILMEMBER JIMMY VAN BRAMER

After 28 years, Suzy Szabo will no longer work at her neighborhood grocery store. The five-minute walk from her Sunnyside home to her job at the local Foodtown on Greenpoint Avenue will become a nearly 90 minute commute on two trains across two boroughs.

In two weeks, the store will be emptied, its merchandise sold and its employees dispersed to other Foodtown locations in Brooklyn and the Bronx. According to Foodtown employees and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, the building’s landlord refused to enter lease negotiations for the upcoming term and the business will be ousted from the premises at the end of this year. The building’s landlord could not be reached.

“We were like a family over here,” said Szabo, the store’s deli manager. “We laughed. We cried together. We were like a family and the customers loved us too.”

Van Bramer, who lives in the neighborhood, said the supermarket acts as an anchor of the community. “A supermarket is more than just a place that sells bread and milk,” said Van Bramer.“It becomes a center of community because it’s a place that everyone goes to. They fall in love with the staff. They rely on them.”

According to Van Bramer, the supermarket owners, Noah and Danny Katz, offered to pay more money and even buy the building in order to stay in their Sunnyside location.

“This is not the case where they couldn’t afford their rent. They were making money,” said Van Bramer. “In this case, we have a property owner who has pushed out a very successful supermarket. We are legitimately frustrated and angry with this property owner who is doing a disservice to the people of Sunnyside.”

Foodtown manager Allen Hyusyan speculated the landlord aimed to receive a tax write-off for owning vacant property.

“It’s a mystery to us,” said Hyusyan. “He just doesn’t want us there. He wants to gut the place from shelving to refrigerating. He wants everything out.”

Plea for information on fatal Sunnyside attack


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF COUNCILMEMBER JIMMY VAN BRAMER

Through tears, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer pleaded for information leading to the capture of those responsible for the murder of a close personal friend.

Around midnight on Saturday, October 20, Lou Rispoli, 62, left his Sunnyside home for a late night walk as he sometimes did to quell his insomnia. At roughly 2 a.m. on 43rd Avenue between 41st and 42nd Street, two unidentified men approached Rispoli, exchanging in a brief conversation before striking him over the head with a blunt object. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he died from his injuries on Thursday, October 25.

According to an eyewitness, a third perpetrator acted as the getaway driver. It was unclear as to whether or not Rispoli knew his attackers.

“Whoever did this for whatever reason has to be brought to justice,” said Van Bramer.

Rispoli, who lived in Sunnyside with his husband for over 30 years, was known for making everyone laugh and bringing joy to the lives of those close to him.

“It is difficult enough to know we’ve lost Lou,” said Mark Horn, a friend of Rispoli’s. “It’s impossible to believe the people who did this will get away with it.”

Rispoli and Van Bramer met at a house party several years ago and Rispoli volunteered with Van Bramer’s 2009 campaign for city council.

It was not clear if the victim’s sexual orientation had anything to do with the attack or whether or not he was robbed. There is no description of the attackers.

“This is a safe neighborhood,” said Van Bramer. “For any of us, any time there is a violent attack on anyone in the neighborhood, it’s an attack on all of us.”

LIC strip club makes third run at liquor license


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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After two strikes, a Long Island City strip club is taking another swing at a liquor license.

21 Group Inc. — the proprietors of the controversial Show Palace strip club — requested that the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) reconsider the venue’s recent application. In June, the SLA sent 21 Group Inc. a denial letter in response to the company’s second application for a liquor license, according to a representative from the SLA.

Formerly known as Gypsy Rose, Show Palace opened at 42-50 21st Street in late May despite strong opposition from community leaders and residents. The all-nude club underneath the Queensboro Bridge opted for a no-clothes policy in response to previous liquor license rejections — forbidden in establishments where alcohol is served in New York.

Local officials remain steadfastly against the LIC jiggle joint receiving a liquor license, standing by their beliefs that such an establishment would be detrimental to one of the most up-and-coming neighborhoods in New York City.

“Nothing has changed since the last application and the community, including the community board, every elected official that represents the area, and the faith community all remain opposed,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Last week, State Senator Michael Gianaris wrote a letter to the chairman of the SLA, urging him that this neighborhood is not the appropriate place for a sex-based business as there are mass amounts of revitalization occurring in the area.

Show Palace’s Facebook page touts itself as “New York’s 1st Fully Nude, Brand New, Luxury Gentlemen’s Cabaret & Restaurant.”

The establishment’s website gives patrons the option to sign a petition against the denial of a liquor license.

“We have evidence that adult establishments, if properly zoned, as this one is, can have a positive impact on the local community as they bring life to the neighborhood after dark, they add security and surveillance to the area, and they bring much needed tax dollars and JOBS that directly benefit the local community,” states the petition.

As of press time, the petition for Show Palace’s liquor license garnered 1,185 of the goal of 5,000 signatures.

Attempts to contact Terry Flynn, 21 Group Inc.’s attorney, were unsuccessful as of press time.

Courier hosts Power Breakfast on future of LIC’s tech boom


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), made clear that as business sectors based in the city move forward, technology will become more crucial.

“As we like to say at EDC: whereas in the past the technology industry was a sector; increasingly, today, the economy itself is the tech sector.”

Pinsky was a featured panelist for the “The Future of LIC: How the tech boom will affect you & your business!” — a power breakfast host by The Queens Courier in part with TD Bank — on Thursday, October 11, which gave a glimpse of what will become of the growing technology growth in Long Island City.

The breakfast played host to panelists: Carol Conslato, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and public affairs director for Con Edison; Andrew Kirby, president of Plaxall; Greg Pass, entrepreneurial officer for CornellNYC Tech; Jukay Hsu, founder of Coalition for Queens; Elias Roman, CEO and co-founder of Songza media; Elliot Park of Shine Electronics; and Gayle Baron, president of LIC Partnership. Featured elected officials who spoke included Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Michael Gianaris and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Van Bramer kicked the morning off by noting that what was core to Long Island City were the arts and culture that had found a home in the region.

“Who in here believes that culture and the arts drives Long Island City,” Van Bramer asked the hundreds present and was answered with hundreds of applause.

Pinsky, head of the EDC since 2008, said it was important that the city take the lead in the ever-changing tech world. Some of the ways New York has begun to do that, he said, included the Cornell Tech Campus that will have a home on Roosevelt Island and incubators in Long Island City to boost start-ups and small businesses.

“First, the sector itself is a critical and growing sector,” Pinsky said. “We’re increasing employment, we’re seeing more economic activity, but I think that’s only half an answer. And that’s because the real reason why we’re so focused on the tech sector is that in the 21st century the tech sector will also be critical to the success of almost every other sector in our city’s economy. If our city doesn’t take a leadership in technology we’ll find it increasingly difficult to maintain our leadership position in anything else that we do.”

See photos from the event

As Cornell Tech, along with other satellite campuses across the city, begin to produce ambitious minded tech experts, they will most likely find a home in Long Island City because of its location and comparatively cheaper rent prices than Manhattan, several speakers said.

Plaxall over the last 20 years has fostered the art community that gradually grew in Long Island City, and now that community will be mixed with a technology community, said Kirby, who runs the real estate company with his cousin. The end result would be something Kirby said would be “amazing.”

“We already have the creative artists, now we can bring the creative technological people to Long Island City and to do that we need to do things that will make this an attractive area for them,” Kirby said. “I think Long Island City has the potential to be a location where we merge technology and art to create some amazing things.”

To attract the expected influx of techies, Plaxall is laying out plans for a community that could foster a merger between the arts and technology, Kirby said.

This community would be on 12 acres on the East River around what is known as the Anabel Basin. This community would include a mixed-use area of residential towers and buildings for technology companies, Kirby said. The vision for this area is to create “really a sustainable community where people can live, work and play that will attract the best and the brightest.”

Roman, the youngest speaker on the panel, said afterward that technology and culture had already become one in another and could open the doors for more and more potential.

“There’s an interesting intersection between technology and culture, where the technology becomes invisible and it’s all about the culture,” he said. “I think that’s a really exciting intersection to be at.”

Hunters Point library site dedicated


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Interior_Cyber_center

Hunters Point bookworms can soon curl up with a good read just inches from home.

Queens Library announced plans to construct a new branch at the corner of Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue in Hunters Point. The 21,500-square-foot facility, built on the banks of the East River, will feature a cyber-center, roof terrace and communal garden as well as separate reading spaces for adults, teens and children. According to Queens Library spokesperson Joanne King, the building will place an emphasis on environmental preservation, implementing ecologically-sound features to create an entirely carbon neutral structure.

Library officials expect to feature free cultural events and educational programs at the facility.

The building — priced at $28.6 million — was designed by world-famous architect Steven Holl, who specializes in environmentally efficient buildings.

The neighborhood lobbied strongly for the library, tired of trekking to their closest facility at the Court Square branch. King said residents felt they deserved a communal place to gather, share ideas and relax.

“They’re going to have a community hub,” said King. “It’s going to be an anchor of education and culture in the community — a community space where people can just relax and be. It will be recognizable from across the river and in the community so it’s going to give some status to the community itself by having this iconic building there as well as all the services a library provides.”

The waterfront site was dedicated at a ceremony on Friday, October 5 with the help of Borough President Helen Marshall and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. Students from P.S. 78 planted “trees of knowledge” during the Friday morning ceremony.

Dr. Don Dodelson, president of the group Friends of Hunters Point Library, was ecstatic that his outfit’s hard work had paid off.

“It feels wonderful that the library is actually going to be and dedicating the ground is a huge step forward,” said Dodelson.

Dodelson hopes the library will become an all-encompassing community center, housing performances and gallery showcases as well as ceremonies such as weddings and recitals.

JetBlue sign lights up LIC


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the mayor's office

Queens has a new guiding light after the flip was switched on a JetBlue sign in the airlines new home, Long Island City.

Local leaders joined JetBlue executives turning on the nearly 40-foot tall sign that sits atop the Brewster Building.

“New York City’s iconic skyline is a little brighter tonight, thanks to the success of JetBlue,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “It’s a great day for a company when it sees its name written in lights at the center of the global economy, and the new sign announces loud and clear that Long Island City is a world-class place to do business and create jobs.”

JetBlue is the largest domestic carrier at JFK, the mayor said, aiding in the city’s record-breaking tourism numbers.

The sign was designed as an honor to Long Island City’s other iconic landmarks, including the Pepsi and Silvercup symbols that welcome visitors journeying over the Queensboro Bridge. The sign will light up blue during the day and shine white at night, according to JetBlue spokesperson Allison Steinberg.

A zoning amendment was approved by the city council in April allowing the erection of the sign.

“The arrival of JetBlue in Long Island City is a milestone in the transformation of Queens Plaza, the gateway to Queens,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “As this area continues to develop into one of New York City’s foremost neighborhoods to do business, I know JetBlue will continue to light the way for others who will choose to call Long Island City home.”

— Additional reporting by Alexa Altman

Students get new supplies thanks to pol


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jason Banrey

For the third year in a row, hundreds of Queens children will crack open a new box of crayons and a fresh notebook at the start of this school year, thanks to a school supply drive sponsored by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Over the past two years, nearly 10,000 items have been collected and distributed to children in need throughout western Queens. This year’s drive will benefit children from I.S. 125 in Woodside and P.S. 166 in Long Island City.

“It’s going to help families not have to make tough choices that no parent should ever have to make,” said Van Bramer. “When a family is struggling to pay rent and pay bills, they might not purchase the new book bag or buy all the loose-leaf binders and all the stuff they know their kids need. They simply can’t do it. We don’t want any kid to fall further behind simply because they don’t have enough money.”

Donation stations, set up at the Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City, Broadway and Court Square branches of the Queens Library, are open for the public to drop off pencils, backpacks, notebooks and markers. Representatives from the councilmember’s camp will collect the items weekly, catalog them and contact schools in an effort to decide exactly what each campus needs.

The drive will run through September 10, but according to the councilmember, could potentially be extended. Van Bramer said they are collecting strictly new, unused items for the drive.

“All kids deserve an equal shot to learn to grow and to succeed,” said Van Bramer. “The first day of school is a time of extreme optimism. We want all the kids to have new, fresh supplies that signify the spirit of hope and optimism.”

Anyone interested in donating can drop off supplies at any of the District 26 branches of the Queens Library.

Councilmember Van Bramer weds longtime partner


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

jessewinter_vanbramerhendricks300dpi-17

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer wed Dan Hendrick, his partner of more than 13 years, in a ceremony at Long Island City’s Studio Square on Saturday, July 28. Surrounded by family and friends, the couple exchanged vows and said their “I do’s” before celebrating at a summery rooftop soiree.

Queens weekend roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The Afternoon Roundup

‘Bom’ scare at JFK Airport

If only spotting a real bomb were this easy. Hundreds of passengers yesterday were evacuated from JFK Airport’s Terminal 4 at 1:43 a.m. after one of them spotted a suspicious package with the words “Bom to USA” scrawled on it. Read more: NY Post

Van Bramer set to wed longtime partner

On a warm November night last year in Puerto Rico, Dan Hendrick slipped a silver ring from his pocket, descended on one knee and proposed to long-time partner Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. Thoughts of marriage had lingered in Hendrick’s mind for some time, but busy schedules always intervened. They talked about it on and off, delaying concrete plans until it was lawful for them to marry in New York. Read more: Queens Courier

NYPD detective suspended after cops find man tied up and being held for ransom in officer’s garage

An NYPD detective was suspended without pay after cops found a man bound and being held for ransom in the garage of the officer’s Queens home, law enforcement sources said Saturday. Investigators from the NYPD’s major case squad went to the Springfield Gardens home of veteran cop Ondre Johnson, 45, about 3 p.m. Friday — after they were tipped off that a man was being held for $75,000 ransom, the sources said.Read more: Daily News

Jets practice report: Crowd heckles Tebow

Tebowmania did not amount to much at the first Jets training camp practice open to the public. A rain-soaked crowd of a few thousand was not filled with Tebow fans. It even featured a few hecklers who gave Tebow a hard time about his passing. He exited the field shirtless, which is sure to cause a stir. Read more: NY Post

Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival marks nation’s 50 years of independence with food, music and fun

The spicy scent of jerk seasoning wafted through the Caribbean crowds at the 2nd annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival in southeast Queens. Read more: Daily News

 

Van Bramer set to wed longtime partner this weekend


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

DanJimmy1w

On a warm November night last year in Puerto Rico, Dan Hendrick slipped a silver ring from his pocket, descended on one knee and proposed to long-time partner Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Thoughts of marriage had lingered in Hendrick’s mind for some time, but busy schedules always intervened. They talked about it on and off, delaying concrete plans until it was lawful for them to marry in New York.

Now, the timing was perfect. Nervously, excitedly, Hendrick popped the question.

A year after the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State, one of Queens’ first openly-gay officials will tie the knot with his partner of more than 13 years on July 28.

The pair met at a fundraiser for Queens Pride House in 1999. Van Bramer recalled standing at the bar, ordering a glass of wine as Hendrick entered the room.

“I don’t know if I believe in love at first site but I certainly noticed him the moment he walked in the door,” said Van Bramer.

He asked a mutual friend about the man with the red hair. Hendrick inquired the same friend about the man in the suit. They knew they needed to talk.

Almost 13 years later, they were engaged.

With 225 friends and family invited, the pair plans to dance to their favorite music from the 70s, 80s and 90s at the summery, rooftop affair, to be held at Studio Square in Long Island City.

To them, the most meaningful part of their wedding is sharing it with the loved ones witnessing their union. The couple said their families couldn’t be more excited.

“My mother cried tears of joy,” said Van Bramer. “She was very happy for us and she adores Dan. I think everyone in the family was thrilled.”

Planning their upcoming nuptials has been a team effort, each responsible for a different task. They selected local vendors to assist with the wedding, supplying everything from the flowers in blue and orange — their favorite colors — from Brooklyn Grange, to the beautiful, custom invitations by Big City Graphics, illustrating the couple’s story.

The grooms picked summer suits for the occasion – Hendrick’s from J. Crew and Van Bramer’s by Calvin Klein. They traded their silver rings for matching gold ones, engraved with their names and the date of their wedding, July 28, 2012.

The couple said the response from the community has been overwhelmingly and exclusively positive.

“The number of people who know we’re getting married surprises me,” said Van Bramer. “It’s rare I go through a full day without someone congratulating me and wishing me the best. People are very supportive and incredibly gracious. It’s been very heartwarming.

Hendrick believes the support they have received is indicative of increasing acceptance

“What’s interesting about this is how uncontroversial it is and how in the scheme of things, this is just two people getting up and having a wedding. That’s what’s exciting about it,” said Hendrick.

He said it’s what we’ll see from this point on.

“People fall in love,” he said.

The couple was present at City Hall, overseeing the inking of the budget agreement, when speaker Christine Quinn announced the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York in July of 2011.

“It was a really exciting moment,” said Hendrick. “Everyone’s BlackBerries went off and the shouts went up. It was an electric moment. Elation is not too strong a word here.”

Van Bramer, who was standing on the steps by the mayor when the news was released, immediately searched in the crowd for Hendrick.

“We have come so far so fast,” said Van Bramer. When I came out in 1989, I would have never thought that two men or two women would get married in my lifetime. It’s equality through its own sheer power of conviction. It’s so amazingly exhilarating to see so many people agreeing with us that this is a basic civil right and that two people loving and committing to each other is worthy of celebration, regardless of who those people are.”

Same-sex marriage generated $259 million in first year


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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A first anniversary is always exciting, and this one even more so.

July 24 marked one year since the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York. The thousands of same-sex couples that married in New York City since gay marriage became legal in the state on July 24, 2011, have brought in millions for the city. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office estimated that the nuptials have generated $259 million in economic impact and $16 million in revenue. On average, same-sex couples spent $9,039 for their wedding celebrations.

Marriage license application forms don’t require individuals to identify their sex, so there is no exact count of how many same-sex licenses were issued. However, in the past year, of those who did identify, 58,136 couples were heterosexual and 7,184 were same-sex. Of those, 574 were from Queens.

Out of the same-sex couples, 3,898 were male and 3,286 were female.

When the Marriage Equality Act passed, the city hoped for these positive economic numbers. After the legalization, NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing and tourism organization, launched its “NYC I DO” campaign, promoting the city as a top wedding and honeymoon destination.

On July 28, openly gay Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and his partner will join the thousands of same-sex couples who have celebrated their weddings in the city.

“Love and commitment are worthy of celebration and New York City is once again at the forefront of equality. We are all enriched when people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and yes, marry the one they choose,” said Van Bramer.

His wedding and reception will take place at Studio Square in Long Island City.

Riverview restaurant is another popular place in LIC to hold wedding receptions, with its beautiful views of the water and Manhattan skyline. Before the Marriage Equality Act, same-sex couples celebrated their relationships at the restaurant, but it’s held many wedding receptions for gay couples in the past year, said general manager Kimo Raouf, including 10 to 15 in the last couple of months.

Riccardo’s by the Bridge, a catering facility in Astoria, has also seen an uptick, but only a small one.

“I did feel that it certainly would open up marriage to a new market,” said Anthony Corbisiero, Ricarrdo’s president. “Honestly, I thought we would do more.”

Before the legalization, the venue had about one or two same-sex weddings a year, and in the past year has had about four.

 

Residents to get relief from pigeon poop under No. 7 train


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

File photo

Woodside resident Rosa Gil has been pelted with pigeon poop for the last time.

The 42-year-old Borough Hall employee and thousands of others living near the No. 7 train, who have long suffered through the splattered sidewalks, sickening stench and stained shirts, will soon receive relief along their commute, thanks to a push — and financing — from Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

The official allocated $250,000 in discretionary funds for a new pigeon mitigation system, designed to deter the birds from roosting under the elevated subway tracks and littering the underlying walkways with their foul feces.

“My constituents have been living with this mess for decades and have been asking for a solution for just as long,” said Van Bramer. “It’s a serious quality of life issue.”

Van Bramer said the droppings, while smelly and unsightly, are also a serious public health issue. According to the councilmember, the entrance to the 52nd Street station is most in need of a cleanup.

Jihee Kim, a 35-year-old Woodside resident who works at her family’s nearby fruit market, is excited about the prospect of a cleaner neighborhood.

“I’m absolutely for it,” said Kim. “If we can approve a person making these efforts, I’m for it. I would support [Van Bramer] in any way I can.”

Van Bramer passed the funds along to the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) which will oversee the alterations.

Deirdre Parker, a representative, said the MTA plans to establish several pigeon-deterrent devices at various stations. According to Parker, the 46th Street and 61st Street stations are currently protected by spikes and netting and the 52nd Street stop’s Bird-B-Gone — a shock track electrical system — deters pigeons from parking.

Parker said the MTA is considering adding extra bird-repelling devices. At 46th Street, it will add 2,700 linear feet of pigeon-deterrent wire along and over the four entrances to the station. At 52nd Street, it will install bird spikes and slopes to prevent perching, bird netting and an ultrasonic device, silent to humans, that creates high-frequency waves, intended to repel birds. At 61st Street, the MTA wants to install a sound device, broadcasting recorded distress and predator calls of actual birds that would repeat every 10 minutes.

According to Parker, these alterations would cost an estimated $259,600. While the MTA has a general outline of changes it hopes to make, it has yet to establish a timeline for when these systems will be put in place.