Tag Archives: Senator Michael Gianaris

Beloved longtime Sunnyside resident Luke Adams passes away


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Photo by Steven Harris

Luke Wagner Adams, former president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and an active Sunnyside resident for over 40 years, passed away Monday night. He was 76.

Adams was the first to receive the Sunnysider of the Year award, which was later named after him. He was known for his community work with the Sunnyside Woodside Lions Club and the nonprofit group Sunnyside Artists Inc.

He owned a travel agency on 43rd Street for many years and also kept a large collection of photographs that showcased Sunnyside and its history.

“Luke Adams was a Sunnyside icon who dedicated his life to making his neighborhood a better place, and he will be deeply missed,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “May his memory be eternal.”

In lieu of flowers, Sunnyside Artists Inc. is asking for donations to an online fundraising campaign that will fund “The Luke Adams Art Prize,” which will be granted annually to local artists. The goal of the campaign is $5,000.

Donations can be made at https://www.youcaring.com/laap or mailed to Sunnyside Artists, Inc. C/O “The Luke Adams Art Prize” 45-06 Queens Blvd. #166, Sunnyside, NY 11104.

Visitation at the Edward D. Lynch Funeral Home, located at 43-07 Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside, is scheduled for Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. A mass will be given at 11 a.m. on Friday at St. Raphael’s Roman Catholic Church, located at 35-20 Greenpoint Ave. in Long Island City. Adams will be buried at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens.

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Citi Bike finally coming to Queens


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THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

The city’s first bike share program will soon become a reality in Queens.

Long Island City and Astoria are part of a list of neighborhoods in the city that will receive Citi Bike docking stations in upcoming years, officials announced on Tuesday.

The news came as former MTA chairman and CEO Jay Walder was named the incoming CEO of Alta Bicycle Share, the operator of Citi Bike. Alta was recently bought by investment firm REQX Ventures, according to published reports.

“Even as we are enhancing and improving our system we will expand it as well, we will double the number of bikes and we will bring them to new neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens,” Walder said.

As part of the announcement, the Department of Transportation (DOT), Alta and Citi said the bike share system would expand from 330 stations and 6,000 bicycles to more than 700 stations and 12,000 bikes by the end of 2017.

Along with expanding the bike share program, Citi Bike will also overhaul every bicycle in the system, fix every existing docking station and enhance the technology used in the program.

“Anyone who uses Citi Bike regularly knows that it should be more reliable, it should be easier to use and it should be accessible to more of the city,” Walder said. “In short, Citi Bike has the potential to be so much more and today we are committing to make that potential a reality.”

While being committed to improving the service, the price rates for annual membership will jump from $95 to $149.

Although the locations of stations in western Queens have yet to be announced, local elected officials are excited that Queens will finally become a part of the Citi Bike Share program.

“Once and for all the blue bikes are in Queens,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “There is no such thing as a citywide program that does not include the great borough of Queens.”

State Sen. Michael Gianaris worked with DOT last year to include Astoria in the Citi Bike plans. There are also plans to include other parts of Queens in the future, according to officials.

Last November the DOT started the process of bringing the bike share program to the western Queens neighborhoods by getting community input from Community Boards 1 and 2.

Now the agency will go back to working with the community to reassess the recommended sites for stations and see if any have changed.

“We want these blue bikes here as soon as possible because people are going to be able to experience Queens in a way that they haven’t, see our cultural institutions, shop at our restaurants, explore the wonders of the waterfront and folks from here are going to be able to have another opportunity to get around,” Van Bramer said.

Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase, which debuted last May, but was pushed back after equipment damages from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.

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Second Sunnyside pedestrian plaza officially opens


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THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Sunnyside residents will now have more room to get together and enjoy the outdoors.

The second of two new pedestrian plazas opened in the neighborhood Friday afternoon at the intersection of 40th Street and Queens Boulevard, under the elevated No. 7 train.

Transformed from an underutilized underpass, the plaza includes tables, chairs and decorative plants. It was named Lowery Plaza after 40th Street’s original name, Lowery Street.

“The opening of Lowery Plaza is great news for Sunnyside residents,” Department of Transportation Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall said. “This new local destination will significantly improve the life of residents and the vitality of local businesses in Sunnyside and Queens.”

The plaza is part of the DOT’s NYC Plaza Program and will be managed by the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District.

Local elected officials, leaders and business owners cut the ribbon opening Lowery Plaza.

Local elected officials, leaders and business owners cut the ribbon opening Lowery Plaza.

“This is something that the community is starving for, more open space and more space to come together as a community,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “The opening of this plaza on 40th Street, just like Bliss Plaza on 46th Street, is a sign of Sunnyside’s continued growth as a destination neighborhood for New Yorkers.”

In July, Bliss Plaza opened at the intersection of 46th Street and Queens Boulevard. The site also includes tables, chairs and planters. This project included leveling out a street to create a one-level pedestrian area

“We have received such positive feedback from community members and business owners about the success of Bliss Plaza, and I’m delighted to replicate this success at Lowery Plaza,” said Rachel Thieme, Sunnyside Shines BID executive director. “The plazas are fantastic neighborhood amenities and true gathering places in Sunnyside.”

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9th Annual Taste of LIC offers items from over 50 local restaurants


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Photos by Dominick Totino Photography

Foodies made their way to the Long Island City waterfront to a get a taste of what the popular western Queens neighborhood has to offer.

The Chocolate Factory Theater presented the Ninth Annual Taste of LIC, a community-wide festival highlighting Long Island City’s culinary and cultural accomplishments, Tuesday at Gantry Plaza State Park.

FOR MORE PHOTOS CLICK HERE

This year’s celebration featured food and beverage tastings from 50 restaurants and auction and raffle prizes courtesy of 100 local Long Island City businesses. The event also featured a special performance by over 30 Sunnyside/Woodside Girl Scouts choreographed by Madeline Best.


Executive Director of The Chocolate Factory Theater Sheila Lewandowski and Borough President Melinda Katz

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer served as Master of Ceremonies and “chocolate lover honored guests” included Borough President Melinda Katz, state Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.

All of the event’s proceeds go toward The Chocolate Factory’s 2014-2015 season of dance, theater, music and multimedia performances.

 

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DOT to implement Slow Zones on Northern and Queens boulevards


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THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The city’s Vision Zero traffic safety plan will be implemented at two highly trafficked Queens thoroughfares where collisions have claimed more than 20 lives in the last six years, officials said.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Thursday that Northern and Queens boulevards would become part of 25 planned Arterial Slow Zones implemented throughout the five boroughs.

“I am pleased to bring the Arterial Slow Zone program to Northern Boulevard where long crosswalks and high speeds have been an unnecessary reality for too many Queens residents,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

The first phase of a Slow Zone for Northern Boulevard will run 4.2 miles long from 40th Road to 114th Street. Starting later this month, the speed limit will be lowered to 25 mph and traffic signals will be retimed.

Since 2008, there have been five fatalities on Northern Boulevard, according to the DOT. One of the recent accidents involved 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, who was fatally struck by a truck on his way to school on Northern Boulevard and 61st Street.

Last month the DOT announced it would install two pedestrian safety islands at the intersection, and remove the westbound left turn bay and signal on Northern Boulevard to eliminate possible vehicle and pedestrian collisions.

“Bringing an arterial slow zone to Northern Boulevard is a huge victory for our entire community,” Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras said.

In July, the DOT will implement a Slow Zone on Queens Boulevard, which has seen 23 deaths in the past six years. The Slow Zone will stretch 7.4 miles from Jackson Avenue to Hillside Avenue.

“I am thrilled to be here on Northern Boulevard with Commissioner Trottenberg announcing safety improvements, rather than with a grieving family begging the city to take actions,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “Too many lives have been lost on Northern and Queens Boulevard, and many other dangerous roads throughout our city.”

The city agency also announced Slow Zones would go up on Jamaica Avenue later this month, and Rockaway Boulevard in August.

For more information on the Slow Zones, visit www.nyc.gov/dot or www.nyc.gov/visionzero.

 

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Weekend bus trial to expand service along Vernon Boulevard


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THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The western Queens waterfront will soon get a taste of extended bus service.

The Q103 bus line, which connects Astoria and Long Island City via Vernon Boulevard, will begin offering service to riders on weekends starting in June, according to the MTA.

The weekend schedule will serve as a trial program for the transit agency to receive comments from the community at an MTA public hearing to be scheduled at a later date. After the public hearing, a decision will be made to keep the service or not, the MTA said. It was not determined how long the trial program would run.

“At long last, weekend service on the Q103 bus line is in sight,” said State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who has been calling for the extra service on the bus line since 2011. “The need for more public transportation in our area will only continue to grow, especially on weekends, as more people flock to our waterfront to visit our restaurants, parks and cultural institutions.”

The weekend service will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and, in addition, the Q103 will also extend its weekday service hours until 9 p.m., instead of 7:30 p.m. The travel path and bus stops will not be affected, according to the MTA.

“The expansion of service will not only benefit the increasing amount of riders but it will also give our growing cultural institutions that ability to generate more traffic to their venues,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

Local leaders and business owners see the need to expand the Q103’s service as crucial to the growing neighborhoods, with the increase of new residential towers coming into the areas bringing more people.

According to officials, the Q103 ridership has been increasing in the past years, rising from 558 riders per day in 2011 to about 790 in 2014.

“The Q103 service is a vital link for the cultural organizations of western Queens,” said Jenny Dixon, director of The Noguchi Museum. “It enables visitors to go from The Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park in the north to SculptureCenter, MoMA PS1, Dorsky Gallery and the Chocolate Factory to the south.”

 

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Mother of Astoria creek crash victim to sue city, driver: report


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Photo via Facebook

The mother of one of the four East Elmhurst friends who died when their car plunged into an Astoria creek two weeks ago is planning on filing a negligence suit against the city and surviving driver, according to a published report.

Velma Elliot, the mother of 21-year-old Darius Fletcher, also plans to meet with the Queens district attorney’s office which is investigating if the driver, 20-year-old Andrew Gramm should receive criminal charges, the NY Daily News reports.

Elliot additionally wants changes to be made to the dead end where the car crashed, the publication said.

On April 4, after coming home from a birthday celebration, the car carrying Gramm, Fletcher, Jada Monique Butts, 19, Crystal Gravely, 19, and Jaleel Feurtado, 20, was traveling on 19th Avenue near 37th Street when it hit the curb and rolled over into Steinway Creek.

Gramm managed to escape the vehicle and call for help, but Fletcher, Butts, Gravely and Feurtado were later removed by FDNY divers and pronounced dead.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris called on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a review of safety measures on the various roads, which lead to the water.

A DOT spokesman said the agency had installed an “END” sign where 19th Avenue terminates and two highly visible “Dead End” signs at the intersection last October and which were in place at the time of the accident.

The spokesman said the agency will be looking into the report of a section of the guiderail missing, even though a preliminary review does not point to any recent reports on the missing section. The DOT will also review conditions at streets ending near water.

 

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Sunnyside to get two new public plazas


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Photo by Artie Weiner

Sunnyside will soon have two new public spaces that residents can enjoy during the summer.

Last year, the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID) applied for the Department of Transportation’s NYC Plaza Program and early this month were notified that the applications were accepted.

“Through this innovative program, we will expand the amount of public space that is available to everyone in the community,” Councilman JimmyVan Bramer said. “I look forward to working with Sunnyside Shines BID, members of the community, and local arts groups to bring the space to life through a diverse array of public events, programming and cultural performances.”

The plazas will be located under the elevated No. 7 train line at 40th Street and Queens Boulevard, and 46th Street and Queens Boulevard. Both locations currently are closed to vehicles.

The Sunnyside Shines BID will work as the nonprofit partner to maintain the plazas and program yearly community events and activities in it.

“As more and more New Yorkers come to know Sunnyside as a great place to live, work and play, I’m sure exciting announcements like the forthcoming public plazas will keep on coming,” Senator Michael Gianaris said.

These two public plazas will receive improvements such as planters, benches and movable tables and chairs, in order to create public gathering places for the neighborhood.

“The NYC Plaza Program has done a tremendous job creating new usable, public spaces throughout the city, and we are thrilled to bring this innovative program to Sunnyside,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “We look forward to making these spaces more vibrant public places in the neighborhood.”

A community outreach meeting to go over design and programming options is scheduled for Wednesday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, located at 43-13 39th St.

 

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7 train suspension lifted for LIC weekend of events


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File Photo

There is a little light at the end of the tunnel for No. 7 train users.

Three weeks after coming face to face with the Long Island City community and listening to their concerns about the No. 7 train weekend suspensions, the MTA will keep the line running on May 17 and 18.

During the March 27 town hall meeting, community members and business owners asked the transit agency to alter its initial plan because of events such as the LIC Arts Open, LIC Flea & Food and LIC Springs!, a block party along Vernon Boulevard.

“Finally the MTA has not only listened to our community on this issue, but taken action,” State Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “LIC Springs! and other events like the LIC Flea and the LIC Arts Open are wonderful displays of how much our neighborhood has to offer, so I appreciate the MTA making it easier to get people here for this one weekend.”

The MTA said that the work previously scheduled for the weekend of May 17 and 18 will have to be rescheduled, however won’t increase the number of closures for 2014. Some of the closures will be rescheduled for 2015.

“The community spoke and the [MTA New York City Transit] listened. The No. 7 Line shutdown for needed repairs has caused ongoing hardship for the businesses, residents, cultural organizations and institutions in Long Island City,” said Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the Long Island City Partnership. “That weekend is expected to draw significant numbers of visitors from across Queens – and New York City – to our neighborhood for arts, culture, food and fun.”

Although the MTA has agreed to keep the No. 7 line working for the one May weekend, Gianaris wants to continue working with the agency to put an end to all weekend disruptions.

“Of course, when everyone wants to come back and enjoy the weekend in Long Island City for the rest of the summer, we’ll run into the same old problem, so I will keep fighting until the 7 train actually running on weekends is no longer news,” Gianaris said.

The suspensions are expected to be in effect from 2 a.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza. On some weekends, there will also be reduced or express-only service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza.

The MTA has also released the following additional changes for the No. 7 train suspensions:

  • May 3-4 will now be a shutdown between Queensboro Plaza and Times Square-42 Street.
  • May 31-June 1 will now be shut down between 74 Street-Broadway to Times Square-42 Street.
  • Sept. 20-21 will now be shut down between 74 Street -Broadway to Times Square-42 Street.
  • Nov 15-16 will now be a limited service to Queensboro Plaza with no service between Queensboro Plaza and Times Square-42 Street weekend.

 

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Probe continues into fatal Astoria crash as loved ones mourn victims


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Photos via Facebook

Police are continuing the investigation into an accident that killed four friends after their car plunged into an Astoria creek as one politician calls for a review of safety measures on roads leading to the water.

A Honda Accord carrying four passengers and a driver was traveling on 19th Avenue near 37th Street about 10:40 p.m. Friday when it hit the curb and rolled over into Steinway Creek, police said.

The driver, identified in reports as 20-year-old Andrew Gramm, was traveling at 60 mph when he decided to make a u-turn on the wet road, according to reports. Once the vehicle went into the water, reportedly 8-feet deep, Gramm managed to escape the vehicle and call for help, cops said, but four people were still inside the car when authorities arrived.

FDNY divers then extracted the passengers, Darius Fletcher, 21, Jada Monique Butts, 19, Crystal Gravely, 19, and Jaleel Feurtado, 20, all from East Elmhurst, according to police.

The women and one of the men were taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where they were pronounced dead, officials said. The second man was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital where he was also pronounced deceased.

Gravely would have celebrated her 20th birthday on Saturday, reports said.

Gramm was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said. He was given a preliminary breath test where results showed he was sober during the time of the accident, according to police.

The NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad is still looking into the accident.

On Facebook, family and friends are mourning the loss of the four young lives through posts and photos.

“Speechless…The only reason I can cope with this is trusting and knowing if God took these kids from us it’s because God has plans for them. Just a tough pill to swallow,” wrote Kay Roberts on Saturday together with a photo of the four friends.

Vernon Feurtado, who according to Facebook posts is one of the victim’s fathers, remembered his son, Jaleel, through photos of the two together.

Senator Michael Gianaris is now calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a review of safety measures on the various roads, including 19th Avenue, which lead to the water. According to the senator, reports of the crash have created questions about the chain-link fence that is supposed to serve as a barricade between the street and the creek. There is also not sufficient signage specifying that the street becomes a dead end.

“As our community deals with this tragic accident, we must work together to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future,” Gianaris said. “DOT must make our streets safer by reviewing all roads leading to waterways as there may be similar dangers in other neighborhoods throughout our city. This accident was avoidable, and something must be done to keep people safe as they drive, walk or cycle on our roadways.”

A DOT spokesman said  the agency had installed an “END” sign where 19th Avenue terminates and two highly visible “Dead End” signs at the intersection last October and which were in place at the time of the accident.


Photo Courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Early Saturday afternoon the DOT also secured the area with jersey barriers and barrels, and also replaced the “END” sign. The spokesman said the agency will be looking into the report of a section of the guiderail missing, even though a preliminary review does not point to any recent reports on the missing section. The DOT will also review condition at streets ending near water.

 

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DOT to install traffic safety features at fatal Woodside intersection


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THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The city’s Department of Transportation will make a series of traffic changes on Northern Boulevard in Woodside, where an 8-year-old was killed last year, officials said.

Noshat Nahian was on his way to school, when he was fatally struck by a truck while crossing the busy thoroughfare at 61st Street in December, police said.

In response to the tragedy, the city will install two pedestrian safety islands at the intersection, and remove the westbound left turn bay and signal on Northern Boulevard to eliminate possible vehicle and pedestrian collisions.

“Safety is the agency’s first priority, and following earlier enhancements including parking restrictions to increase the visibility of pedestrians on the northeast corner of the intersection, DOT will proceed with a comprehensive redesign of the area,” a DOT spokeswoman said.

The agency will also adjust signal timing to maximize crossing time for pedestrians, and install school crosswalks at every crossing to increasing the visibility of pedestrians.

Work on the project is expected to be conducted in the following weeks using in-house resources, according to the DOT.

“I am glad to see the city stepping up safety measures at this deadly intersection, though I only wish these plans had been completed before the life of Noshat Nahian was so tragically lost,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who has worked to ensure that Northern Boulevard, and other western Queens roads, receive attention in the Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative.

“This is an encouraging step in that direction but we have far more to do to remove the dangers posed by our streets,” Gianaris said.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has also worked with school leaders, parents and the community to get the safety measures approved in the area.

“We must do everything possible to make sure that no child is ever harmed trying to cross the street to get to PS 152. We continue to mourn Noshat Nahian and we are as committed as ever to making Vision Zero a reality in Woodside, and New York City,” Van Bramer said.

 

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MTA to continue 7 train suspensions despite LIC’s pleas


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THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

After listening to numerous complaints recent No. 7 train suspensions have caused, the MTA told Long Island City – we’re sorry but the work must go on.

The western Queens community came together during a town hall meeting with MTA officials on Thursday to discuss the line’s suspensions, which are expected to continue for 13 more weekends throughout the year.

Officials from the agency explained the purpose behind the suspensions and listened to feedback from residents, elected officials and business owners.

MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco expressed his apologies for the inconveniences but told those present that the disruptions will continue as planned.

“This is not something that is unique to just our 7 line riders, because of the nature of our system we have to do this all over the city,” Bianco said. “Let me apologize to you with the inconvenience we’re causing because I know it’s there and I do apologize. We’ve looked hard for alternate ways to do this and I think we found the best solution.”

One of the ongoing projects that are causing the No. 7 line to shut down on weekends is the implementation of a Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), which by 2017 is expected to provide real-time arrival information at stations and “improve system safety, reliability, capacity and flexibility,” according to the agency’s presentation.

The other two projects include Steinway Tube reconstruction and rehabilitation, and track panel replacement.

The suspensions are expected to be in effect from 2 a.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza. On some weekends, there will also be reduced or express-only service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza.

One of the biggest topics brought up by residents and business owners during the night was the installment of a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city.

Even though the entire room agreed it would be the best alternative during the suspensions, Bianco said that according to data from the MTA, a shuttle bus would only benefit a limited amount of people and would not save much travel time.

However, elected officials said they have yet to see any data regarding the shuttle service.

“We asked for it a while ago and I haven’t seen it,” Senator Michael Gianaris said. “We’re still waiting for it. We keep hearing about it.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer agreed on the need to see the data as he asked the audience whether they believed the shuttle would work best for them.

“If the New York City transit believes that that plan is a bad plan for all of you, despite the fact that all of you think it’s a very good plan, then we need to see why this is being done the way it is being done,” Van Bramer said.

Although the work is expected to continue until 2017, this year is expected to be the worst and after mid-2015 the majority of the work disruptions will shift east from Long Island City, MTA officials said.

 

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Kaufman Arts District is first of its kind in Queens


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THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Astoria is ready for the world to know it’s the place to be for the arts.

The western Queens neighborhood gathered Friday to celebrate the announcement of the designation of the Kaufman Arts District, the first of its kind in the borough.

The district was created in partnership with Kaufman Astoria Studios, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the Queens Council on the Arts.

During the announcement, the partners of the arts district received a proclamation from Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer on behalf of the City Council.

The mission of the arts district will be “to advance and promote the area as a world class vibrant cultural destination and home for creative industries,” officials said.

“This corner of Queens has quickly become a vibrant community of cultural venues and arts organizations that have attracted some of our generation’s greatest artists,” Van Bramer said.

The Kaufman Arts District will span from 31st Street to the west, 34th Avenue to the north, Steinway Street to the east, and 37th Avenue to the south.

“Over the years, Kaufman Astoria and western Queens have blossomed side by side into a citywide landmark and a neighborhood that doubles as a world-class destination for the arts,” Senator Michael Gianaris said.

Within the boundaries of the Kaufman Arts District are the Museums of the Moving Image, The Astor Room, Studio Square NYC, the Queens Council on the Arts, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, UA Kaufman Astoria Cinemas, the Astoria Performing Arts Center, and the Theater Development Fund’s Costume Collection.

“The creation of this arts district opens the community to more opportunities to experience the extensive creative activity in our midst,” said Carl Goodman, executive director of Museum of the Moving Image. “We’re going to really work together to bring this neighborhood to the next level.”

For more information on the arts district, visit here.

 

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MTA town hall to address 7 train shutdowns


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THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The Long Island City community plans to express its rage at the MTA for the lack of local subway service.

A town hall meeting for locals to decry the last three weekends of No. 7 train suspensions is scheduled for Thursday to go over the details of the service disruption, expected to last for 19 more weekends.

Local elected officials, who asked the MTA to set the meeting up, and MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco are expected to hear feedback from community members.

“I really thought the community should have the same access and same right to get the briefing and be able to ask their own questions,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “I want the folks to be able to share with the MTA how they feel about this and why it is so harmful to their business and everyday lives.”

Senator Michael Gianaris said the MTA does not realize Long Island City has become a destination. The community has attempted to be more reasonable with the agency, but without success.

“It’s nice to have a dialogue, but a dialogue without action is not that helpful,” Gianaris said. “I hope this time is different. We’re going to keep their feet to the fire.”

Through July 21, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the MTA said, but there are also nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.

The suspensions are expected to be in effect from 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza. On some weekends, there will also be reduced or express-only service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza.

Ideas for transportation alternatives during the weekend disruptions, such as the shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city, will also be brought up.

Sheila Lewandowski, Long Island City resident and owner of The Chocolate Factory Theater, believes such a meeting should be done before the disruptions began. However, she hopes the MTA will take what is said at the meeting and put it to good use.

“I think it’s important that the MTA remembers that it’s a public service and that they need to hear from their customers. I don’t feel like we get much opportunities for that to happen,” Lewandowski said. “What I want is for them to be more accessible to the very people that use the system because I feel like that’s what’s going to drive better service and change.”

The town hall meeting is open to the public and will begin at 6:30 p.m. at P.S./I.S. 78 at 46-08 Fifth St.

 

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LIC demands better communication over G train suspensions


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THE COURIER/ File Photo

The Long Island City community is concerned a new string of subway shutdowns will bring more problems to residents and business owners.

The MTA announced the G subway line, which connects Brooklyn and Queens, will be shut down for five weeks, including weekdays and weekends, starting July 28, though full details of the closure are still being finalized.

Service will also be suspended between Nassau Avenue and Court Square.

Although the transit agency said there will be no scheduled suspensions on the No. 7 and L subway lines during the five weeks, Long Island City residents and business owners are concerned about the inconveniences the shutdowns will bring.

“It’s one thing after another. We just have to throw up our hands and ask what’s next from the MTA,” Senator Michael Gianaris said. “They make these decisions without asking the community for its input.”

The closures are due to Sandy-related repairs, which involve track, structural, signal and electrical component repairs and replacement work, the MTA said. The work was scheduled during this period because it is when the G train has the lowest ridership.

Sheila Lewandowski, co-founder and executive director of The Chocolate Factory Theater in Long Island City, said more commuters are using the line and she hopes the MTA will take the time to listen to their ideas for alternatives before July.

“There’s more and more people traveling within the other boroughs,” Lewandowski said. “It should not just be a talk down decision. There has to be communication. They need to be listening to their communities more.”

 

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