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Queens Chronicle

Funded project at Queensbridge stalled

$300,000 plan for bathroom repairs and AC left waiting for three years

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Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:11 am, Thu Aug 29, 2013.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) wants the New York City Housing Authority to use the money he allocated more than three years ago.

In 2010 Van Bramer gave NYCHA $135,000 to repair a downstairs bathroom and install an air conditioner in the upstairs gym at the Jacob Riis Settlement House in Queensbridge.

Later the agency said the project required $165,000 more, which Van Bramer later allocated for a total of $300,000. The projects still have not been completed.

“We want a real timetable,” Van Bramer said, “not a several-year delay.”

In response a NYCHA spokesman said “The New York City Housing Authority has met with Councilman Van Bramer earlier to discuss the steps needed to move this project forward and we are working with Mr. Van Bramer to bring this effort to completion.”

A recent NYCHA quarterly report showed that the agency has not used $50 million in taxpayer dollars set aside for repairs throughout the city, Van Bramer said.

Van Bramer also allocated $500,000 for cameras at the Ravenswood Houses. NYCHA says it needs $4.5 million more.

Last month the settlement house held a town hall about crime at Queensbridge.

“It was 90 degrees in the auditorium,” said Christopher Hanway, executive director at the Jacob Riis Settlement House. “It could have been a real health hazard, but people stayed because it was a really important issue.”

Seniors also want repairs made to the downstairs bathroom.

Exposed pipes frequently leak onto the bathroom floors and members of the senior center say the toilet seats do not fit correctly and often pinch people.

“Toilet paper dispensers fall on people’s heads. There are broken tiles,” Queensbridge resident Betty McCord said. “There’s water all over the floor. We’re talking about a slipping, falling mess.”

Queensbridge resident Maxim McCord said the urinals are moldy.

“We have seniors who won’t use the bathrooms,” said Robert Madison, director of senior services at the Jacob Riis Senior Center.

NYCHA Chairman John Rhea told Van Bramer six months ago in a private meeting that the project could stay tabled for about two more years.

“The reasons change as much as the numbers,” Van Bramer said, adding NYCHA has told him the stall is because lack of designers and workers and a lengthy bidding process.

“It’s all a bunch of malarkey,” he said.

Councilwoman and public advocate candidate Letitia James (D-Brooklyn) suggested the agency employ skilled Queensbridge residents through its apprenticeship program to get the work done.

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