Tag Archives: Long Island City

Newtown Creek Alliance talks cleanup with Ridgewood group


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo courtesy of Newtown Creek Alliance

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

The Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) offered information about the polluted waterway’s ecology during an Earth Day meeting of the Ridgewood Democratic Club Thursday night.

NCA Program Manager Willis Elkins was joined by historian Mitch Waxman and Community Board 2 Environmental Committee Chair Dorothy Morehead to discuss the group’s ongoing improvement and preservation efforts at Newtown Creek.

The NCA was first established in 2002 with the central goal of refurbishing and protecting all 3.8 miles of the waterway, a federal Superfund site straddling the Brooklyn/Queens industrial border.

“We’re in support of maintaining its industrial use, we just want to make sure it’s maintaining a clean state,” Elkins said.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Newtown Creek was a vibrant salt marsh ecosystem. By the 1950s, however, the creek was one of the busiest industrial waterways in the city. As a result, pollutants including chemicals, dyes, metals and petroleum were left behind.

In addition to industrial waste, one of the many challenges plaguing Newtown Creek is contamination from over 20 combined sewer overflow (CSO) pipes discharging sewage and stormwater into the creek. The nearly 450 citywide CSOs were originally designed to handle the surplus of rainwater entering the sewer system during storms.

According to Elkins, the East Branch CSO, located at Metropolitan Avenue, is one of the biggest pipes on the creek, discharging over 500 million gallons of sewage and untreated stormwater per year. The creek also contains many dead-end tributaries in which water tends to pool and stagnate, promoting bacterial growth.

The rise in bacteria levels from CSO output is responsible for low dissolved oxygen levels and poor water quality. In an attempt to raise oxygen levels, the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is in the process of constructing a complex aeration system designed to pump air into the creek.

The NCA has voiced staunch opposition to the $110 million dollar project, citing concerns over the possible health risks linked to aeration of the creek’s contaminated sediment.

“It’s only treating the symptom and not the actual cause of the bad water quality,” Elkins said. “It’s like putting a bubbler on your toilet and calling it clean water.”

The NCA partnered with a research group to conduct a series of air quality tests. According to Elkins, research showed higher levels of bacteria entering the air while the aeration system was in use. Despite these results, a consensus could not be reached between the NCA, DEP and other agencies regarding the impact on public health.

Elkins voiced support for natural solutions, including the use of cord grasses and “filter feeders” such as mussels and wild oysters to help improve dissolved oxygen levels in the creek. Green infrastructure improvements, such as the installation of bioswales slated for Maspeth, can also help absorb excess rainwater before it enters and the already overburdened sewer system.

Going forward, Elkins and the NCA hope to focus on the creek’s ecology by creating habitats for the many birds, fish, plants and mollusks that have returned in recent years. The NCA recently received a small grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund to construct a living dock to monitor wildlife. The 180-square-foot structure will feature milk crates filled with substrate that will act as a habitat for fish and invertebrates.

The NCA also partnered with LaGuardia Community College to install cord grass planters along industrial docks and bulkheads.

“It shows you can incorporate life into lifeless structures,” Elkins said.

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Schools Chancellor discusses District 30 issues, ‘renewal schools’ plan


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Parents and educators made their voices heard during a town hall meeting for District 30 where topics such as school overcrowding, testing and the start of a renewal program for schools were discussed.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña joined parents and members of the Community District Education Council 30 on Thursday night in Long Island City for a town hall meeting discussing issues and concerns arising in District 30.

Among the topics brought up by audience members — who were asked to write out questions on postcards that CEC 30 members read — included recent school testing, more parent engagement, overcrowding at local schools and the need for mandatory recess.

When answering questions on concerns over recent testing, which has been under criticism for being used mostly to evaluate teachers, Fariña said that the DOE is working to run things more smoothly. She believes that the tests should make up only 30 percent of the teachers’ evaluation, and the rest of the evaluation should be left to the school principals.

However, Fariña added that she does not believe opting out of the state tests is the answer.

“I want to be clear that I do believe in testing. I believe our kids are challenged every day of their lives in different ways,” she said. “As long as I have been with testing, no matter what you call the test, there’s always some stress, there’s always some fear.”

Fariña also brought up the idea of creating diagnostic tests, where students would take one test at the start of the school year and then another at the end of the year in order to evaluate progression.

In regards to parent engagement, Fariña said she wants to increase involvement of parents and guardians. She said she would like more days for parent-teacher conferences, workshops for parents, and even recommended parents start book clubs to not only create relationships but also get an idea of what books their children are assigned to read.

She also added that one of the priorities is to create more programs aimed to parents and children whose first language is not English.

“We’re working on many different levels and we’re trying to make it better for all parents to access all our schools,” Fariña said.

Among other topics discussed during the meeting was the plan to create what the chancellor called “renewal schools.”

Through this model, schools that are struggling, such as Long Island City’s P.S. 111, would become “renewed.” This means that the school day would be extended to at least 5 p.m., the school would offer extra programs with after-school programs also open to parents, health services, academic support, and some form of enrichment activities such as an arts program or physical education.

“Our job is to help struggling schools. Our job is not to close them. Our job is not assume that they have to struggle forever or be failing schools forever, and we’ve gone into the renewal school model with that fully in place,” the schools chancellor said.

At these schools there will also be renewal directors, who will work with principals to provide more support and guidance. The directors will also observe and evaluate teachers at these specific schools to make sure they are a right fit for the site.

“We need to do a wraparound service around these schools so that all the needs are met,” Fariña said. “You can say a school is only about education, but the reality is that it’s a lot more than that. They need to be community hubs. They need to be places where, to the most degree possible, we do everything we can and bar no efforts to get this done.”

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Bandits wanted for towing away air pumps from Queens gas stations


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are searching for the airheads who stole self-serve air pump machines from 17 gas stations in Queens and Brooklyn since December.

In each caper the suspects used a hook and chain attached to a vehicle to yank the coin-operated devices from their pedestals, authorities said. Each of the air pumps contained hundreds of dollars in quarters and police believe the crooks got away with more than $40,000 in change combined.

A dozen of the thefts occurred in Queens, and security cameras captured one of the incidents which occurred at 6:35 p.m. on March 21 at the Sunoco gas station located at 128-24 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park.


Two men, described as white or Hispanic, were spotted in the video. Police said one of them, who was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans, was observed operating a blue Honda Accord.

The other Queens air pump thefts are as follows:

  • At 4 p.m. on Dec. 29, the crooks removed an air pump containing $800 in change from the Citgo gas station located at 91-02 South Conduit Ave. in Ozone Park. They returned to the location on March 1 at 3 p.m. and stole the replacement air pump, valued at $1,000.
  • On Dec. 30, at about 10 p.m., the bandits stole an air pump containing $200 from the Getty gas station at 70-21 73rd Pl. in Glendale.
  • At 8 p.m. on Jan. 12, the suspects removed an air compressor valued at $2,500 from the BP gas station at 130-11 North Conduit Ave. in South Ozone Park. They returned twice more to this location — at 9 p.m. on Jan. 28 and again at 10 p.m. on April 1 — and removed the replacement air compressors.
  • On Jan. 13, at about 6:59 p.m., the crooks removed an air pump valued at $2,000 from the Sunoco gas station at 162-35 North Conduit Ave. in Springfield Gardens.
  • At 12:20 a.m. on March 8, the bandits removed the air pump from the Global gas station at 49-25 Van Dam St. in Long Island City.
  • That same morning, at 2 a.m., the crooks yanked away the air pump machine from the Exxon gas station at 59-51 Long Island Expwy. in Long Island City.
  • At 8:26 p.m. on March 16, the suspects removed the air pump machine from the BP gas station located at 100-07 Rockaway Blvd. in Ozone Park.
  • At 9:26 p.m. on March 20, the perpetrators removed an unknown amount of change from the vacuum air machine at the Eagle service center located at 49-05 Astoria Blvd. in Astoria.

Among the five Brooklyn locations in the pattern was the Exxon GPN Boulevard gas station at 1193 Myrtle Ave. in Bushwick. The crooks removed the station’s air pump machine, valued at $700, at 9:08 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 2.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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LIC Flea & Food beer garden offers drinks from six Queens breweries


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

As the weather is expected to hit the 70s this weekend, what better way to cool down than with a cold drink from the LIC Flea Beer Garden?

The popular Long Island City flea market celebrated its opening weekend last week, filled with sunshine and visitors from near and far.

LIC Flea & Food is located at an outdoor lot by the waterfront at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, and offers items for sale including food and drinks, collectibles, antiques, arts and crafts, handcrafted jewelry and fashion, and much more.

Along with over 80 vendors each day, the market also has a beer garden, exclusively serving beers brewed in Queens from local breweries including Rockaway Brewery, Queens Brewery, Finback Brewery and SingleCut Beersmiths. The LIC Flea is the only location to carry beer from all six breweries. The bar will also offer a great selection of wines.

LIC Flea & Food will run every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through the end of October.

For updates on the LIC Flea & Food market, follow on Facebook.com/LICFlea, Instagram.com/LICFlea and @LICFlea on Twitter.

Applications from potential vendors for the new season are still being accepted by registering online at www.licflea.com.

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Queens rental inventory and prices steadily rising: report


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MNS Real Estate

While it’s nowhere near the levels of Manhattan or Brooklyn, the amount of available rental apartments in Queens is steadily rising, and prices are trending upwards as well.

From February to March the rental inventory rose 6.59 percent to 889 apartments available throughout the borough, according to the MNS Real Estate’s March Queens Rental Market Report.

This marks the second consecutive monthly increase. Additionally, since MNS has been tracking the Queens rental market in August 2014, the borough’s inventory climbed from just 592 apartments.

The borough’s real estate boom is driven by popular neighborhoods, such as Long Island City and Astoria, and MNS CEO Andrew Barrocas said the inventory will continue to increase because demand is high in Queens and developers are bringing more projects here.

When inventory rises, normally prices fall, but that may not be the case long term in the Queens rental market because of the high demand, Barrocas said.

“Traditionally it does [fall],” Barrocas said, “but I think certain markets flourish when more inventory comes.”

Barrocas pointed to Long Island City, where the demand to move into the area has caused increased creation of new amenities, such as dinning and retail options, further pushing up values in the neighborhood.

The most expensive rents in the borough are, of course, in Long Island City. March rents in LIC averaged $2,385, $2,932 and $4,091 per month for studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms respectively, according to the report.

But only studios in the neighborhood saw a monthly increase in March.

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New LIC condo building to begin sales in May


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Modern Spaces 

Although the Long Island City real estate market is scorching hot with thousands of apartments planned, last year there were no new condo units available, said Eric Benaim, CEO of brokerage Modern Spaces.

Meanwhile, the demand for condos in the burgeoning area is climbing as more people desire to settle down in LIC after renting there for a while.

To meet demand, some planned LIC condos will come to the market this year, including a building called The Corner at 47-28 11th St., which Modern Spaces recently announced will begin selling next month.

“We are excited because we know there is a lot of demand for condos,” Benaim said. “What tends to happen is people get introduced to the area through the rentals then they live here for a while, and then they are ready to buy.”

The Corner has 23 units, which are a mix of one- and two-bedrooms. The homes feature chef kitchens and oak flooring, and some units have private outdoor space. The building also offers designer-style bathrooms with Kohler tubs, Grohe fixtures and ceramic titles.

Additionally, there are numerous amenities through The Corner, such as a fitness center, sundeck and residents’ lounge.

The condominium is being built through a joint venture partnership between Kora Developers LLC and BK Developers.

Prices for the condos have yet to be announced, and the building isn’t planned to be completed until later this year, so new homebuyers won’t be able to move in until at least the end of the year.

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LIC community garden vies for votes to win Seeds of Change grant


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Dutch Kills Community Garden

A community garden in Long Island City is looking to win a grant that will allow them to add more programs and reach more people.

The Dutch Kills Community Garden, which was started in 2013, could win a grant from the Seeds of Change Grant Program if it gets enough votes to move on to the final judging phase of the program.

The community garden was started by former LIC resident Jennifer DuJat, who grew up with her family of gardeners in Long Island and later gardened on her apartment’s fire escape in the western Queens neighborhood.

After being put on waiting lists in other community gardens, DuJat reached out to real estate broker Steffan Olausson Partridge, who helped her get the LIC apartment, and asked if he knew of anyone with an empty lot willing to offer it for the garden.

Partridge mentioned he had a house on 28th Street between 38th and 39th avenues, which he rents out as a short-term vacation spot, with a back lot.

The lot then became the home of the Dutch Kills Community Garden, which this past weekend celebrated the opening of its third season and is completely open to the public.

“We are making the point that even though we have chosen to live in the city we can still live green and do things for the community,” DuJat said.

The garden’s season goes from around April until the end of September, or the first frost, and there are 13 beds of vegetables which are owned by different members of the garden.

Members take turns completing chores to keep the garden’s common space clean, and each bed is the responsibility of the member who owns it. There are some rules that members must follow while keeping a bed, such as making sure they don’t block anyone else’s bed, keeping it clean and using organic materials.

The Dutch Kills Community Garden previously won the Citizen’s Committee for New York City Neighborhood Grant in 2013 and 2014.

This year, if they receive a Seeds of Change grant, the founders plan to use the funds to expand programs, such as wine tastings, and reach more people. The money will also go toward making the garden more sustainable regarding water by creating a rain harvesting system with rain barrels.

“By supporting these kinds of things in the neighborhood it get the word out and shows people that they can be environmentally friendly,” DuJat said. “It shows that even if you are in the city you can support a community garden.”

The voting for the Seeds of Change Grant Program ends on April 27 and people can vote once a day.

To vote for the Dutch Kills Community Garden, click here.

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LIC’s SculptureCenter to get excellence in preservation award for renovation, expansion


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Michael Moran

One Long Island City nonprofit is being recognized for its excellence in preserving a century-old building, home to a former trolley repair shop, and converting it into a large art institution with its recent renovation and expansion.

The SculptureCenter, located at 44-19 Purves St., has been chosen as one of nine winners of the 25th Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards, which will hold a ceremony on April 30 in Brooklyn.

These awards, also called the “Preservation Oscars,” are known as the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s highest honors of excellence in preservation.

The Long Island City institution was chosen for its renovation of the original 1908 brick building, which it moved into in 2002, and a 2,000-square-foot expansion which complements the site. The project was designed by Andrew Berman Architect, who has also designed projects for The New York Public Library and MoMA PS1. 

“The Moses Awards celebrate terrific preservation projects. Several of this year’s award winners demonstrate how historic buildings can be adapted to meet contemporary needs and add economic vitality in neighborhoods across the city,” said Peg Breen, president of The New York Landmarks Conservancy.

The SculptureCenter’s addition, which maintains the steel and brick structure of the existing building, gives the location a street presence while also increasing gallery and programming space. The one-story building houses an entrance lobby providing guests with ticketing, orientation and services such as restroom facilities, a bookshop and various gallery spaces.

A new 1,500-square-foot enclosed courtyard was also created to be used for outdoor exhibitions and events. Some upgrades to electrical and mechanical systems and improvements in office and storage space were also made as part of the renovations.

“SculptureCenter is honored to receive this year’s Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award. Andrew Berman’s sensitive and thoughtful expansion and renovation honors the dramatic steel and brick structure of the existing building while creating a stronger street presence as well as generously proportioned new spaces for the production and display of sculpture,” said Mary Ceruti, executive director and chief curator at SculptureCenter. “As the neighborhood becomes populated with more glass and steel, we felt it was important to preserve some of its industrial history.”

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LIC Arts Open to celebrate fifth year


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Junenoire Fonte

Long Island City is coming together next month to celebrate the art scene that grows every day throughout the western Queens neighborhood.

The LIC Arts Open — a five-day extravaganza where over 500 artists are expected to occupy galleries and other local spaces and open their studios to visitors — will celebrate its fifth year and hopes to work with real estate companies to help keep artists in the neighborhood.

“We’re really proud to have reached year five and I think that we did not really envision it when we first started,” said Richard Mazda, festival director. “We [started] something that even in the first year became much bigger than we thought it would.”

The festival, running from May 13 through 17, began as a two-day, open-studio event mainly showcasing visual artists. However, in its fifth year, the event now features works from visual artists, performers, musicians and so much more.

This year the festival will span 60 locations, and over 200 artists will open up their studios on Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, from noon to 6 p.m. to share their work with visitors. For the first time, there will be a preview of open studios located in the Court Square area on Friday, May 15, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Sculpture by Jack Howard-Potter at last year's LIC Arts Open.

Sculpture by Jack Howard-Potter at last year’s LIC Arts Open.

“The initial inspiration for the festival was because Queens has one of the largest concentrations of artists of any borough in New York and maybe it’s the largest concentration of artists in the country. It just hasn’t been talked about much,” Mazda said. “We have a lot of the major cultural institutions in Queens so the festival was sort of inspired by the idea that it was time to shine a light on the immense talent that is here.”

Mazda also added that there is some concern surrounding the real estate boom occurring in the neighborhood, but he plans to work with real estate property companies to “remind them that artists are a valuable component when marketing the area.”

A head sculpture made from trash bags by Beth Williams.

A head sculpture made from trash bags by Beth Williams.

The festival is working with companies such as Jamestown, which owns the Falchi Building located at 31-00 47th Ave., to showcase art shows during the LIC Arts Open.

The idea of the five-day event is also to take over buildings and spaces that are not traditional gallery locations, and create pop-up art galleries and art shows introducing the community to these industrial spaces.

Another highlight of the festival includes neighborhood nights out, where each night is dedicated to a specific area of Long Island City such as Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue, Dutch Kills or Court Square.

A fundraiser will be held on May 5 at the home of LIC photographer Orestes Gonzalez. During the garden party, awards will be given to Harriet Taub, executive director of Material For the Arts, and sculptor Eliot Lable.

The LIC Arts Open will come to an end during a closing party at the Court Square Studios, located at 2138 44th Rd., on May 17 featuring a special concert version of the musical “Hair,” a silent auction of about 100 art pieces on 10-by-10 canvases, and performance from the Astoria band 2/3 Goat.

Every event throughout the festival is free and open to the public. For the latest updates visit licartsopen.org.

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LIC Flea & Food celebrates grand reopening this weekend


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Spring is finally here and what better way to celebrate the warmer weather than to take a trip down to the LIC Flea & Food.

The popular Long Island City flea market, located at an outdoor lot by the waterfront at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, will kick off its third season on Saturday, April 11, with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m.

“We are thrilled to kick off our third season of LIC Flea & Food bringing together amazing vendors and the community for both our outdoor season and indoor holiday market,” said LIC Flea & Food President Joshua Schneps. “We look forward to a great season ahead and offering a place for visitors to come for the day to enjoy the flea, the waterfront park, surrounding businesses and all that Long Island City has to offer.”

Items for sale at the market include food and drinks, collectibles, antiques, arts and crafts, handcrafted jewelry and fashion, and much more.

Along with over 80 vendors each day, the market will also have a beer garden, exclusively serving beers brewed in Queens from local breweries including Rockaway Brewery, Queens Brewery, Finback and SingleCut. The bar will also offer a great selection of wines.
LIC Flea & Food will run every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through the end of October.

For updates on the LIC Flea & Food market, follow on Facebook.com/LICFlea, Instagram.com/LICFlea and @LICFlea on twitter.

Applications from potential vendors for the new season are still being accepted by registering online at www.licflea.com.

Here’s the list of vendors that will be at the market for opening weekend:

As I See It
Bad Nana
Balance Center Harmony
Bao Shoppe (The)
Breads & Spreads, LLC
Bull Dog Burgery
Bundts NYC
Butcher Bar
CakeBox NYC
Catharsis Co.
Ceil Witherspoon
Cait’s Carnivores
Chuta Madre!
Creations by Cameca, LLC
Cris Pietro Designs
Curry Station
Czechout Jewelry
Damian Rivera
Drink More Good
East Coast Roast, Inc.
Emily Militano
Esta-Joy’s Kitchen
Hanks Juicy Beef
Heart & Soul Foods
Himalayan Collections (The)
House Project (The)
Jack ‘n Pack
Jessy’s Pastries
Jewelry by Anna Harper
Kati Shack
Khao Man Gai
Krista Stained Glass
Lady V’Second Time Around
Lizzmonade LLC
LodestarNYC Jewelry
Lucy & Leo
Luke’s Lobster
Lumpia Merienda
Miriam Vargas
Miroslava Palavicini Leather Belts
Mizudama
mmm enfes Turkish Food
Mountain Side Crafts
Nighthawk’s Kitchen
No Fork
Nomad Truck
Oconomi
Paris Images Screen Printing
Pickle Me Pete
PDA Planters
Queen Tut Creationz
Queens3
QueensPopPhoto
Rice and Chopsticks
Rita’s Water Ice
Roobrics
Sac’s Pizza Place
Sam’s Ice Cream
Sensational Sauces
Seoul Pancake
Siggy Parker’s General Store
Southern Wheel Eats
Steve Reid
StuffedNYC
SunsTruck
SupremeLuv
Tea n’ Milk
Tikka Pops
Ukuva iAfrica USA, INC.
Village Peddlers
Vivian Jewelry Corp
Volpe Vintage
We See Stars
Woops!
Yadviga -Candles
Yankee Doodle Dandys
Tik Kitchen
Toy Room Treasures
Yuyi Love Works

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City Planning extends public comment period for mayor’s citywide rezoning plan


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

The Department of City Planning is giving residents more time to express concerns about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s citywide rezoning plan, following criticisms at a recent public hearing.

The public comment period was originally scheduled to end on April 6 but has been extended to April 30 for the proposal, Zoning for Quality and Affordability, which is a significant part of Blasio’s plan to create or preserve 200,000 affordable housing units citywide in 10 years.

De Blasio hopes more than 11,250 of those affordable units will be built over the Sunnyside Yards in Long Island City, an idea that has also taken heat from residents and elected officials.

The citywide proposal targets changing zoning regulations to encourage the construction of more affordable and senior housing as well as improve the look and quality of buildings.

Part of the proposal would, for example, reduce parking requirements for buildings in neighborhoods with public transit options or that have low car ownership, which will help lower construction costs; the report claims this would reduce costs for housing.

The plan also seeks to ease rules that shape buildings and allow more design flexibility for developers in high-density areas by increasing height maximums in many areas up to 15 feet and reducing setback requirements. This could help developers to create bigger buildings with higher floor-to-floor heights and better layouts.

However, critics at the public hearing on March 25 have said that there hasn’t been enough publicizing of the plan. Residents fear that larger buildings will be built in some historic neighborhoods that have fought for strict contextual zoning regulations to protect the character of the areas, such as Jackson Heights.

Some also criticized that since many buildings will have only 20 percent affordable housing to meet city subsidy programs, mostly market-rate or luxury units will be built through the housing initiative.

Following the public comment period, the city planning will produce amendments to the proposal and another round of public review will begin.

Click here for a summary of the plan or here for the detailed draft.

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Community project ideas on display at Sunnyside participatory budgeting expo


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Residents in the 26th City Council District got the chance to view project proposals that will be put to a public vote later this month during Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s participatory budgeting (PB) project expo Monday night at Sunnyside Community Services.

“This is a chance for residents of this district to really get a visual of the projects that are going to be on the ballot a week from now,” explained Amanda Nasner, PB delegate and Special Projects representative from Van Bramer’s office. “This is just a good visual to help people get excited about participatory budgeting.”

Van Bramer is one of 24 City Council members who have each allocated $1 million in discretionary funds for public improvement projects aimed at helping the community. Budget delegates from District 26—which encompasses all or parts of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside—showcased their project ideas through vibrant displays and posters.

Many of the project proposals called for improvements to the district’s schools. Jennifer Munoz, a sophomore at the Academy of American Studies, advocated for much-needed auditorium repairs at Newcomers High School in Dutch Kills. At 15, Munoz is one of the youngest budget delegates in the district.

According to Munoz, the Academy of American Studies and Newcomers High School share the same auditorium. The project would replace the auditorium seating and upgrade the sound system at a projected cost of $250,000.

“Basically, the auditorium is being used a lot, so we need to fix it up,” Munoz explained. “They have broken chairs, so we’re trying to get them fixed.”

Other proposed school improvement projects include the installation of security cameras outside Bryant High School, resurfacing the P.S. 112 playground, and a series of technology upgrades at P.S./I.S. 78, P.S. 11, I.S. 204, P.S. 166, P.S. 12 and Aviation High School.

Woodside resident Tom Ryan and his daughter Katherine spoke in favor of the Woodside Reforestry project, which would fund the planting of Parks Department-approved trees along both sides of Broadway, from 48th Street to 69th Street, at a cost of $200,000.

“There are no trees there. It’s barren,” Ryan said. According to Ryan, both he and his fellow Northern Woodside Coalition members would assume the responsibility of watering and caring for the trees.

Miki Bairstow, a delegate from the Housing Committee, was on hand to advocate for six project ideas, including the installation of security cameras and playground upgrades at the Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Woodside Houses.

Kenny Medrano presented four project proposals on behalf of the Library Committee, including the installation of ADA-compliant push-button access for handicapped and wheelchair-bound patrons at both the Sunnyside and Woodside public library branches.

Several delegates proposed transportation improvements throughout the district. Nancy Silverman spoke in favor of a $55,000 proposal to provide seniors at the Jacob Riis Settlement House in Queensbridge with a 10-passenger van for day trips and various group outings. Ray Johnson and his fellow Transportation Committee delegates advocated for the $500,000 LIC Bikeway, the installation of bus bulbs at 31st Street and five real-time passenger information countdown clocks at bus stops district-wide.

Residents will vote for their favorite projects between April 11 to 19 at various locations throughout the district. Click here for details.

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Former LIC cigar factory could be converted for residential use


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Modern Spaces

Another old factory building in Long Island City is up for grabs and could see a residential conversion.

Real estate firm Modern Spaces announced on Thursday that its commercial properties division is marketing the former DeNobili Cigar Factory at 35-11 9th St. The four-story building was recently renovated and is “ideally positioned for residential conversion” being that the site is zoned for residential use, according to the real estate firm.

“The pace of development in Long Island City is showing no signs of slowing,” said Evan Daniel, executive vice president of Modern Spaces’ commercial division. “Not only does this property enjoy a current high occupancy, but with the R5 zoning and accessory lot, it holds a great deal of promise for a residential conversion.”

Daniel is marketing the property with Edward DiTomasso.

The building has a total of 102,670 square feet and was constructed in 1896. It has potentially attractive features if it were to be converted for residential use, including 20-foot ceilings, exposed beams, hardwood floors and arched windows.

The former cigar factory currently has 57 commercial units and two cell towers.

There is also an adjacent vacant lot connected to the site at 35-31 9th St., which has more than 6,000 buildable square feet.

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Disabled 7 train disrupts morning service between Queens and Manhattan


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 10:49 a.m.

Service on the 7 line between Long Island City and Manhattan has been restored with delays after a two-hour disruption due to a disabled train, according to the MTA.

Sources said train crews reported a smoke condition on a 7 train near Grand Central Station at about 8:34 a.m., causing the train to stop between stations.

Upon further investigation, MTA workers determined that the smoke emanated from a contact shoe touching the third rail, which powers the train.

Power was turned off, and the MTA dispatched a rescue train to get all passengers safely off the disabled train and sent to Grand Central Station, an MTA spokesperson said.

All 7 train service between Hunters Point Avenue and Grand Central was halted as crews worked to remove the passengers and resolve the situation. According to the MTA’s website, at 10:32 a.m. 7 line service was restored, but with delays in both directions.

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LIC Flea & Food to kick off new season with ribbon cutting ceremony


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Bradley Hawks

With only two weekends until the grand opening day at the LIC Flea & Food, there are many vendors to make sure you check out when taking the trip down to the market.

The popular Long Island City flea market, located at an outdoor lot by the waterfront at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, will reopen on Saturday, April 11.

Items for sale include food and drinks, collectibles, antiques, arts and crafts, handcrafted jewelry and fashion, and much more.

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 11 at 11 a.m. at the entrance of the market located at 5-25 46th Ave. to officially start the season.

LIC Flea & Food will run every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through the end of October.

Applications from potential vendors for the new season are still being accepted by registering online at www.licflea.com.

1. Rita’s NYC
At Rita’s NYC, their tag line is happiness. They have the freshest and highest-quality ices in a variety of delicious, natural flavors to choose from. Stop by and see for yourself for the first time at the LIC Flea & Food and they promise your first visit won’t be your last. The dose of happiness will vary as the flavors do every weekend, but their promise of happiness is one that they always keep. As a Rita’s guest your happiness is their number one priority. They always greet you with a friendly smile and serve you in a New York minute.

2. Curry Station
Curry Station brings the Malaysian experience from the home to the streets of New York. With mom’s mouthwatering curry sauce, it will be cooked with fish balls, chicken and shrimp. While enjoying one (or all) of these spicy dishes, have a sip of Curry Station’s refreshing Barley Drink. Their sauce and barley drinks are all homemade so come out and have a taste!

3. Lady V Second Time Around
An original vintage and vintage-inspired fashion clothing shop with shoes, handbags, accessories and collectibles known for her high-energy personality and style. “We are affordable and sell quality vintage and repurposed clothing.” Each item is coupled with a signature positive affirmation message.

4. Seoul Pancake
Seoul Pancake is the premier source for the best authentic Korean cuisine in New York. Send your palate on a journey with the scallion and kimchi pancakes, then wash it down with a cool, refreshing sikhye. All selections are homemade from family recipes and come either vegan-friendly or with a selection of delectable meats and cheeses — all guaranteed to please.

5. Stern Design Works
Stern Design Works was founded eight years ago by husband-and-wife team Cameron and Rebecca Stern with the mission of creating thought-provoking jewelry and small form sculpture revolving around themes including science, history, technology and the realm of fantasy. Their work is based in traditional metalsmithing, mixed with more modern methods such as in-house digital design/3D printing and bio-plastic resins.

6. Siggy Parker’s General Store
Pickers, collectors and purveyors of unique and fun items — Siggy Parker’s General Store out of Cape Fear, North Carolina, has something for just about everyone. They travel across the country looking for what they like to call “vintage funk and fine junk,” and they don’t like to specialize in any one thing. Siggy Parker’s always packs its booth full of vintage bicycles, furniture, clothes, skateboards, retro kitsch, magazines, rock ‘n’ roll, movie memorabilia and so much more.

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