At a rowdy fourth public meeting for the Sunnyside Yards master plan, the new head of the planning team, Adam Grossman Meagher, said the team is considering a public land trust as part of the financing scheme.
“You can imagine part of this that’s created through traditional means,” Grossman Meagher said. “You can also imagine,” he said, part of the site as a community land trust.
A CLT is a community-based non-profit that owns the land, allowing residents to control the use, and are used to maintain affordability. There has been a CLT movement and a push in the city council.
The idea of a public land trust has been on the lists of demands by activists who’ve made their presence felt at the master plan community outreach meetings throughout the year.
Protesters were a major part of this fourth general public meeting, holding an Occupy-style mic-check demonstration in the middle of the event. The lead protestor led the disruption from a table in the Aviation High School cafeteria where poster boards were on display around the periphery. The 50 or so participants in the call-and-response eventually targeted a small side-room where Grossman Meagher and lead consultant Vishaan Chakrabarti were leading a presentation on the emerging master plan. The protesters were not allowed inside but after they chanted a demand for entry, Grossman Meagher mentioned the CLT discussions off-handedly.
Asked (to confirm) if the Economic Development Corporation was discussing the possibility of a CLT, Grossman Meagher said “yes,” and that the idea was on one of the poster boards. I couldn’t find the idea on the poster boards except for one board of a list of ideas heard by participants at public meetings.
The team plans to have another meeting later this year and a master plan ready by sometime in winter. At this fourth meeting, some ideas of how the plan is shaping up were on display. Check out those images in the slideshow below.
A few years ago, a possibly British person posted on a Yelp review of Rainey Park, “Not a bad place to have a stroll on a nice day when you are in the neighbourhood. But not special enough for a special trip.”
The place is mainly a big field, with a battered fence, not-so-frequently mowed grass, a Noguchi-style playground, a not-so-used baseball diamond, a basic basketball court, and trees that aren’t ideally placed near the benches on sunny days. Nevertheless a lot of people, including me, spend parts of our life at Rainey Park. Some barbecue, some picnic, some exercise, some fly drones, some role down the Noguchi hill thing, some stand at the water’s edge fence and meditate on the view, I sit on the bench squinting and sometimes sweating while reading.
Now, a whopping $7.5 million is being invested in Rainey. City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer allocated $3.7 million from the 2020 budget, on top of $3 million already secured (or the other way around, I don’t know, I’m confused). Borough President Melinda Katz is also bringing in $800,000. That should add up to $7.5 million.
So we’re finally discussing this. On July 8, LIC Talk posted, “Where is the Northern Border of Long Island City?” The blog is right that there is no easy answer. The situation of the ambiguous border has complicated my life since I’ve moved here.
When I moved here, my apartment on 36th Avenue near 10th Street was listed online as “LIC-Astoria border.” I soon came to find “LIC” signage along the street and as north as Broadway, which LIC Talks insists is the border. My address came up alternately as Long Island City or Astoria in Google Maps. Certain websites listed my neighborhood as Astoria based on my zip code (11106.) My roommates used either name for their mailing address. At that time DNAinfo ran a crowdsourcing piece finding there was little consensus on the south Astoria border. I read a 2008 NYTimes piece placing the Ravenswood Houses in LIC. And I overheard someone by 36th Ave and 21st Street say she was going to Astoria. I read a Gothamist piece referring to the area I lived in as “South Astoria.” At an Astoria writers group at Panera Bread on 35th Avenue, someone said that actually, we were in an area traditionally known as Long Island City, when Broadway was the border. A book in the back of the Noguchi museum referred to the area as LIC. A famous 1980 NYMag piece declared the Queensborough Bridge as the upper Long Island City border. A 2011 NY Daily News piece said Little Brazil, centered on 36th Avenue, is in Astoria, while a 2017 NYTimes piece placed it in “a pocket of Queens.”
By the time I started this blog, I had already concluded that I lived in Long Island City, or a place traditionally known as Long Island City. But I knew that we had moved into an age where much of the area south of Broadway is thought of as Astoria. Also, when I told people I lived in LIC, they would say something about the area being up and coming. I would have to explain I lived in a corner heavy with South Asian and Mexican or Central American immigrants, who by the way, seemed to run the local businesses and have the largest presence in Rainey Park, which I think is different demographically than Queensbridge or Socrates. (We’ve also got Greek and Brazilian immigrants, which sounds like Astoria). I would say I lived within a field of warehouses and small factories. I’d say I lived by three public housing complexes. I explained there were few restaurants or bars here. In any case, it wasn’t the “LIC” people tend to think of. And it wasn’t the “Astoria” they think of either.
The problem, it seemed, was rooted in the fact that what traditionally separated LIC from Astoria was not a street, but the clustering of residential pockets with much industrial area in between. That industrial area was long sprinkled with homes and some fully residential strips such as Crescent Avenue as it runs through Dutch Kills. And I lived in a residential pocket within a greater industrial area. Adding to that, is how the upper rim of the Queensbridge Houses on 40th Ave feels like a solid border because it’s followed abruptly by an industrial zone. And as Queensbridge is known to be solidly in LIC, it’s easy for any residential areas north of it to seem like – well, now we’re in Astoria, or something.
I named this blog Corner of Astoria because it rolled off the tongue well. But I never felt satisfied with that designation. And I possibly never will.
The N/W stations at 36th and 30th avenues have opened, along with Hunters Point South Park Phase 2, making for one, (almost) perfect week of summer, before the Broadway and 39th Avenue stations shut down on July 2 for eight months. As noted elsewhere, the stations still don’t have elevators. The idea of a shuttle to elevator-stations has been floated.
I haven’t seen the 30th Ave station yet (or taken the train at either) but did see the funky glass walls at the 36th Ave station. Not sure what they were going for or who designed this.
The city has revealed a new rendering for the kayak launch and eco-remediation planned for Hallets Cove. Technically, the beach where LIC Boathouse holds free kayaking sessions is a launch, but a floating dock will be built extending from the Astoria Houses near the NYC Ferry at Astoria Landing.
The Economic Development Corporation shared its latest rendering with Community Board 1 recently, and has subsequently shared it with Corner. The illustration also includes a built wetland. Councilman Costa Constantinides announced the concept in his 2015 State of the District speech. He said:
“It’s one thing to read about marine life or ecosystems in a book, but it’s a whole other thing to have a chance to experience it first hand… This simple project will offer Astorians from all walks of life a chance to reacquaint themselves with a world that for so long was neglected and disdained.”
Late last year the EDC and the Parks Department hosted a visioning session at the Astoria Houses Community Center for local input. Constantinides, Borough President Melinda Katz and the Mayor’s Office allocated $5 million for the dock and eco-remediation project.
Today I watched that head in Socrates park, an installation by Tanda Francis, called “Take Me With You,” get taken away.
And not just the head, but the whole body of work that graced the park since October 1 is out of the park, from what I could see. The next installation will be Virginia Overton’s solo-set called “Built.” According to the website, “The show’s largest piece is a crystal-shaped sculpture made of industrial architectural truss systems and angle iron spanning 40 feet.”