The effort to connect Flushing and Jamaica via bus rapid transit is starting to draw criticism from elected officials who believe it would have a negative impact on their constituents.
But the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is saying those officials are by far in the minority on the matter, and supporters think a new bus route could cut commute times by 20 percent between Northern and southern Queens.
To many Queens elected officials, Mario Cuomo was more than a governor — he was a political inspiration.
“A native of Queens, Governor Cuomo was an inspiration to me and to many borough residents who entered public service in the hope of following his example and building on his legacy of achievement,” Borough President Melinda Katz said in a statement.
2014 began with tragedies in Western Queens. From the death of a 7-year-old to the discovery of Avonte Oquendo’s remains, it was a difficult winter. But not all of 2014 was bad. Many traffic-calming measures were installed throughout the borough to make Queens streets safer and a huge chunk of affordable housing was set aside in the Astoria Cove project. Here’s a look back at the top stories from the past 12 months.
As a young man growing up in Ozone Park, Joe Addabbo Jr. had more reason than most to stay out of trouble. While most kids might be worried about parents, principals or even police catching them doing something wrong, Joe Jr. was also concerned about public perception. Whether boyhood mistakes like putting a carelessly thrown baseball through someone’s window or more serious teenage risks such as alcohol or drugs, he had an extra reason to steer clear: He didn’t want to cause his father, U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Addabbo, to lose an election.
“I was afraid to walk on my neighbor’s lawn because it might cost my dad a vote,” Addabbo said. “I felt that because of who my father was, I had to show respect to the community.”
Amid frequent outbursts that resulted in at least one attendee being escorted out by police, a crowd of about 300 area residents packed the auditorium at the Museum of the Moving Image on July 23, concerned about the recent conversion of the Westway Motor Inn in East Elmhurst into a potentially permanent shelter for homeless families. In the end many of their questions were left unanswered.
The elected officials on the panel, Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), all of whom have expressed concern over the suitability of the inn as a shelter, were joined by representatives of the Department of Homeless Services, social services provider Women In Need, Community Board 1 and the 114th Precinct.
Former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone was on hand Tuesday when the City Council formally restored a CUNY scholarship in his name.
The $11.1 million fund will allow city residents attending CUNY schools to receive about $400 per semester to help with books and other costs.
This was supposed to be the week John Liu was to be surging with major political and union endorsements; the week state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) was supposed to be glancing nervously into his rearview mirror.
And it was — until about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, when Mayor de Blasio endorsed Avella and the Working Families Party withdrew its pledged endorsement of Liu, choosing to remain neutral in the Democratic primary in the 11th Senate District.
The statue may be in Brooklyn, but it clearly still has some fans in Queens.
Eighteen months after it was moved from the perch outside Borough Hall it sat on since the LaGuardia administration, “Triumph of Civic Virtue” resurfaced as an issue at Tuesday night’s Community Board 9 meeting.
Barely three months after stepping down from the City Council, Peter Vallone Jr. is back, this time working under Gov. Cuomo as a special assistant to the commissioner of the state Department of Corrections.
“I’m very excited about it,” Vallone said. “I posted on Facebook right away. I’m excited for the opportunity to serve the public again.”
Peter Vallone Jr., a councilman representing the Astoria area for 13 years has been called upon by the Cuomo administration to be a special assistant to the state's corrections commissioner.
Barely three months after stepping down from the City Council, Peter Vallone Jr. is back, this time working under Gov. Cuomo as a special assistant to the state’s corrections commissioner.
The words “commute” and “New York City” usually make one think of squeaky, dirty, crowded subway cars snaking through tunnels and along elevated rails. Or perhaps one conjures up thoughts of passengers packed into buses like sardines or jockeying for room under bus shelters. Some, especially out here in Queens, may think of a commute as idling on a packed highway in a car.
One thing that most New Yorkers may not think of — unless maybe you’re from Staten Island — is boats.
He’s only been in office for six weeks, but 19th District Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) is already proposing legislation and setting up a student program that could go citywide.
The attorney, son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone and brother to former Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), is resurrecting a bill first proposed by then-Councilman Tony Avella to enforce restrictive covenants in neighborhoods. If passed, he believes it will prevent wanton destruction of houses whose owners say they were not aware of the covenants that protects properties in certain neighborhoods.
From top left, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras and former Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. scored the lowest grades in the city while Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Councilmen Eric Ulrich, Ruben Wills, Peter Koo, Jimmy Van Bramer and Danny Dromm had some of the highest
Each year, the New York League of Conservation Voters puts out a scorecard that grades all Council members on environmental issues and for the 2012-13 City Council year, Queens had some of the highest scores and the lowest.
The scores are based on voting and sponsorship records on 17 bills that cover recycling, composting, clean energy, biodiversity, transportation, air quality, energy efficiency, resiliency and more.
In November, Queens voters sent four new members of their City Council delegation to City Hall. They replaced members who had key positions in previous Council sessions.
When the four new lawmakers — Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) and Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) — received their committee assignments last week, they all found themselves in different levels of power.
Bay Terrace’s PS 169 was the location of Paul Vallone’s inauguration ceremony as councilman for the 19th District on Saturday, which drew a crowd of more than 500 people.
Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, was master of ceremonies. Participants included the Francis Lewis High School Junior ROTC color guard and William Liao, a fourth-grader from PS 203, who recited Emma Lazarus’ famous poem “The New Colossus.”
Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) was officially elected speaker of the New York City Council Wednesday afternoon.
What was expected to be a contentious vote ended up being a scene of unification and reconciliation as the new Council walked on the floor around 1 p.m. After being greeted by thunderous applause, Mark-Viverito’s last opponent, Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan), formally conceded, praising the new speaker with a hug and congratulations.
In Western Queens, 2013 was the year of development and affordable housing. Willets Point, Hallets Point, Hunters Point and 5Pointz became names commonly thrown around by politicians, community boards and civic groups throughout the area. There wasn’t a month that didn’t go by when residents, electeds and developers went head to head on major development projects, illegal apartments, a massive soccer stadium plan or even the possible closing of their neighborhood movie theater.
An animal abuse registry bill introduced by Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) was voted through on Dec. 19 by the City Council.
According to the legislation, crimes that would result in inclusion on the registry are animal fighting, abandonment, aggravated cruelty and failure to provide proper sustenance, among others, and all persons included on the registry would be prohibited from owning an animal.
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. presents a rendering of the soon-to-be improved Triborough Bridge Playground-A in Astoria with representatives from the Queens Borough Parks Department.
Driving along in Astoria, it’s easy to miss Triborough Bridge Playground-A — named for the bridge it sits under.
It’s barren. Cracked cement and crumbling handball courts make what could be a popular hangout spot into an eyesore.
On Tuesday, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) announced the upcoming improvements to be made to the Paul Raimonda Playground in Astoria.
Joined by Councilman-Elect Costa Constantinides, center right, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, District Leader Carol Scarano, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), Community Board 1 Parks Chairman Richard Khuzami, third from left, and members of CB1, Vallone announced his office had allocated $800,000 for renovations which will include a new Steinway piano-shaped spray shower, benches, gate repair, fitness equipment and a renovated basketball court.
How disappointing to learn that “Council OKs school at Keil Brothers site” (Domenick Rafter, Nov. 21, multiple editions). Keil Brothers Inc., established in 1930 as a flower shop, grew into a well-respected, full-service garden center.
The owners of Keil Brothers had annual revenue in the millions and they provided gainful employment to over a dozen people. Many are our neighbors. Both the owner and employees pay taxes like the rest of us. They also generate employment for many suppliers, along with gardeners and landscapers who purchase their products. With 8 percent of residents out of work, 7 percent who have given up looking and many more looking to upgrade from minimum-wage or part-time jobs, the last thing we need is to drive more stores such as Keil Brothers out of business.
Many residents oppose construction of a school on this site for good reasons. It is primarily a residential neighborhood with two other schools located only blocks away.
The site rests along two major bus routes, and is next to a large thoroughfare in an area made up mostly of narrow residential streets. These capacity-constrained streets will be negatively impacted by both school buses and parents dropping off their kids during rush hour taxing strained city resources. Street crossing for students could be dangerous.
The City Council approved this new school by a vote of 36-2. Only aspiring candidate for Council Speaker Mark Weprin and outgoing Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. voted no. Weprin was unable to convince 49 other Council members to protect a thriving business and residential neighborhood. How effective would he be as the next Council speaker? Perhaps there are better candidates for than Weprin, ones who can protect small businesses and the residential neighborhoods which make up the heart of New York City.
A bill introduced by Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. would remove former Mayor Ed Koch’s name from the Queensboro Bridge and place it on the Municipal Building in Manhattan despite the City Council approving the co-naming more than two years ago.