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Queens Chronicle

City Council member drums up plan to revitalize riverfront

Proposal would provide amenities to Hallets peninsula

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Posted: Monday, September 14, 2015 12:34 pm

Western Queens officials and community members are dreaming of an evening walk along the waterfront from Astoria Park to Socrates Sculpture Park.

City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) touted a plan to revitalize the shoreline Saturday during a festival held in conjunction with the Waterfront Alliance at Hallets Cove playground that would use allocated funding for projects along Astoria Hallets Peninsula.

“We’re a waterfront community, and we have very limited interaction with our waterfront,” Constantinides told reporters Saturday. “We’re really looking forward to reconnecting with our past, reconnecting with who we are as a community.”

The plan would include adding a new eco-dock, a floating dock that allows for various vessels to pull up to it, similar to the one already in Bay Ridge. The dock could include a kayak launch and would provide an educational opportunity on the local ecosystem. The proposal would also allow for an upgrade to Hallets Cove playground. He said adding Citi Bike to the area is also on the wish list.

Constantinides said he and Borough President Melinda Katz each allocated $1 million in this year’s budget, fiscal year 2016, for the projects, so that $2 million is “already secure,” he said. The Hallets Cove playground renovation has an additional $1.2 million allocated, $1 million from Katz and $210,000 from the councilman’s discretionary budget.

This plan would coincide with the citywide ferry service plan, scheduled to begin in 2017. 

However, unlike the ferry project, there is not a set timeline for the waterfront upgrade. Constantinides said that the New York City Economic Development Corp. is doing an engineering study to plan the logistics for the eco-dock.

“We’re going to work through the Parks Department and make sure this playground, the ferry and the eco-dock try to come online as quickly as possible,” he said.

The plan for change to the waterfront area has been in the works for years.

Ilana Teitel, visioning committee chairperson for Green Shores NYC, said the coalition held nine community meetings in 2010 in Astoria and Long Island City to gauge community input that led to the waterfront plan.

“People wanted more space for passive recreation,” Teitel said. “I think everybody agrees this is one of the most amazing views anywhere, and it’s hard to get right out onto the water and enjoy it.”

In the meantime, residents are waiting in anticipation.

Andre Stith, an Astoria Houses resident, and community school director for Zone 126, said the pier looks the same as it did when he moved there in 1977. He thinks the project will bring the community together, and he said he thinks his five grandchildren will enjoy the change.

“I’m just glad to see it, waiting to see it,” Stith said. “I’m for change. Change is always good.”

Photo caption: Roland Lewis, Waterfront Alliance President and CEO speaks with City Councilman Costa Constantinides Saturday in front of the proposed site for the eco-dock

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