Stories from Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, City Line and JFK Airport

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With over 30 years of civic experience, Joann Ariola is hoping to take her knowledge to City Hall next year and fight to keep residents in her district from moving out of state in what she called an “exodus.”

“I was raised in this district, I raised my children in this district and now my grandchildren are being raised in this district,” Ariola said in a sitdown interview this week with the Chronicle.

After Hurricane Ida flooded large swathes of New York City and became the most recent climate event to expose its vulnerabilities, the City Council passed two pieces of legislation aimed at addressing climate change last Thursday.

One bill, sponsored by Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn), will require the city to identify and plan for climate change-related hazards. Another, sponsored by Councilmember Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), will tackle its carbon footprint by creating a fleet of electric buses. Read more

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Weeks after a summer input session, the city’s Racial Justice Commission has released a report outlining persistent patterns of inequity experienced by New Yorkers that it would like to address with proposals to revise the Big Apple’s charter.

The NYC Racial Justice Commission, which consists of a temporary committee of 11 people, identified six systemic barriers to power, access and opportunity for minorities based on feedback from virtual sessions, online surveys, conversations with leaders in racial justice work and a variety of other disciplines across the five boroughs, including a session that was held at Borough Hall at the Helen Marshall Atrium in Kew Gardens on Aug. 5. Read more

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Everyone is excited to be back in the swing of things at PS 97, The Forest Park School, and recently took advantage of the great weather to show their enthusiasm.

The school said its event spreading chalk messages of kindness was an amazing activity, and all of the students’ messages were very heartwarming. At the top, kids in Pre-K class 216 enjoy sharing their contributions. Read more

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The score after the first public meeting on congestion pricing was: most for, some against and lots of people on both sides wanting exemptions from the tolls that likely will be charged to drive a motor vehicle into Midtown and Downtown Manhattan some time in 2023.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the state and city Departments of Transportation have been hosting public input sessions for the last week, with each one catering to different geographic area. Read more

Friday, October 15, 2021
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Transit advocates and elected officials are calling on the MTA to expand an existing discount ticket program on the Long Island Rail Road to every commuter rail station within New York City — an initiative that would have a considerable impact on Queens. 

The Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee rallied at the Woodside LIRR station on Wednesday morning to make that case to the MTA that lowering fares does not mean lower revenues. Read more

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Breon Peace, left, appointed U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York by President Biden, was sworn in Friday by U.S. Chief District Judge Margo Brodie in Brooklyn.

Peace had been a partner at the New York office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. He worked in the white collar defense and investigations and litigation groups. Read more

Thursday, October 14, 2021
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Gov. Hochul signed a bill into law last Thursday that promotes the use of opioid antagonists to combat drug-related deaths and overdoses.

“Addiction can impact any family, suddenly and harshly — those who find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle are there through no fault of their own,” Hochul said in a statement. “This is a personal battle for me and I am proud to be able to combat the opioid crisis by signing these bills into law.” Read more

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Social Security and Supplemental Security Income payments will jump 5.9 percent in January, the government said Wednesday, the biggest increase in nearly 40 years.

The average retiree will see his or her monthly benefit go up $92, from $1,565 to $1,657, according to the Social Security Administration. The average older couple, both receiving benefits, will see a hike of $154, from $2,599 to $2,753. And the average disabled worker will see an increase of $76, from $1,282 to $1,358. Read more

The NYPD and the Office of Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz will host a gun buyback event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6 at First Baptist Church in East Elmhurst.

Participants can receive a $200 pre-paid gift card for turning in any operable handgun or assault rifle with no questions asked; and a $25 card for other rifles, shotguns and air guns. Read more

Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
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The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is temporarily ceasing preparatory work on the controversial $2.1 billion LaGuardia Airport AirTrain project.

“At Governor Hochul’s request, the Port Authority is undertaking a thorough review of potential alternative mass transit options to LaGuardia Airport,” the agency said in a press release Tuesday afternoon. “The agency will work in close consultation with independent experts and stakeholders, and will complete its work as expeditiously as possible, consistent with the need for the review to be thorough and rigorous. During the review, the Port Authority will pause further action with respect to the LaGuardia AirTrain project.” Read more

Monday, October 11, 2021
Thursday, October 07, 2021
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Just prior to a well-publicized outdoor press conference on Monday featuring opponents of the LaGuardia AirTrain, Gov. Hochul announced that she directed the Port Authority to examine alternatives that get more people to and from the airport while also getting them out of their cars and onto mass transit.

But many of the participants were just as interested in what Hochul’s statement did not say as what it did. Read more

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The City Council candidates for District 32 discussed their perspectives on climate change and environmental issues during a forum on Tuesday night, ahead of the November election.

Felicia Singh, the Democratic candidate, and Joann Ariola, the Republican candidate, participated in a virtual forum over Zoom hosted by the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, answering questions submitted by the public and predetermined questions. Read more

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A Covid-19 vaccination mandate went into effect on Monday for New York City public school teachers and staff, leaving some Queens schools to fill the vacancies left by those who refused the shot.

“Unfortunately, we have teachers that are adamant about not getting the vaccine,” said Phil Wong, president of the Community Education Council 24. Read more

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Another round of funding will target abandoned boats that remain in Jamaica Bay, following a similar initiative last year but this time with more money behind it.

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) announced on Tuesday that his office has secured $65,000 to continue removing the boats, $10,000 more than last year. Read more

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Parts of the west section of Forest Park began to close over the past week as the Parks Department began construction on a pedestrian and bike path connecting Glendale to the side adjacent to Woodhaven.

The nearly $4 million project will create a path that will slice through the section of park just east of the Forest Park Golf Course on the western half of the park from the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Forest Park Drive to the Seuffert Bandshell Parking Lot. Read more

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The 106th Precinct’s crime prevention officers are holding an event at St. Helen Church in Howard Beach on Sunday to help protect personal property and provide domestic violence outreach. It will take place in the church parking lot at 157-10 83 St. from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Crime Prevention Division provides services to assist in safeguarding property and personal protection. Read more

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The 192-year-old Neir’s Tavern will now be permanently commemorated with last weekend’s co-naming of the intersection opposite the bar. Community members, local officials and members of the private NEIRS200 group gathered on Saturday for the unveiling of Neir’s Tavern Way, at the corner of 78th Street and 88th Avenue in Woodhaven.

“It’s nice to know that it wasn’t all for nothing. This shows that we did something here,” said owner Loycent Gordon, who pulled the rope to unveil the street sign with help from his wife, mother and son. Read more

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Attorney General Tish James is delivering on her promise to use settlement money from medical companies to give back to the communities that have been devastated by the opioid crisis.

While at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx during a statewide tour Monday, James announced that she would deliver upwards of $1.5 billion to the New York communities most impacted by the abuse of the painkillers. Read more