The Anable Basin was controversial even before Amazon said it would show up. Less than a year ago, City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, other local pols and various LIC activists were there to protest a plan to turn the strip at 44th Drive at the waterfront into a development that would somehow involve residential and industrial uses altogether. Well — no one cares about that anymore, because Amazon is coming, which is apparently the biggest business story in a while and it’s down the street from my apartment. A memorandum of understanding shows where Amazon plans to set up shop for part of it’s HQ2, and it’s the same area, just south of Con Edison. JVB and Senator Michael Gianaris were initially down with Amazon coming to LIC, but held a protest at the site today saying this was a huge $3 billion giveaway that won’t involve any public review. The mayor says the 25,000 jobs or more promised over a decade is unprecedented and the governor says the return on investment would be nine to one. Continue reading “Amazon to come to Anable Basin”
A great grandfather at the front of the line for the microphone told Comptroller Scott Stringer he’s sick of bridges and streets getting named after politicians. Stringer said he admitted he fantasized of one day telling his son that “Stringerway” was once called “Broadway.”
Stringer, an almost-2013 candidate for mayor and thought-to-be 2021 mayoral hopeful, had the jokes at his Long Island City town hall at the CUNY School of Law. When one person insisted that City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has his eyes set on being mayor, Stringer said, don’t you hate people who want to be mayor?
Stringer wasn’t just here to understand the needs of one region of Queens. He was here to make allies in his fight against City Hall – and probably for it. He knew that many of the complaints would be about housing and development. That’s everywhere, but in LIC, the towers are shooting up around us into the sky and the people are anxious about school space, train space, park space and sewage. Stringer is positioned as a high-level politician with views juxtaposed to the mayor’s housing strategy, setting himself as a more progressive alternative.
“I don’t believe that this is how we should build our city,” he said in reference to Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for economic development. “We’ve got to change the system. And the way we’re building our city is, we’re doing it backwards.” Continue reading “Comptroller comes to LIC to take on City Hall”
The first thing City Council Speaker Corey Johnson wanted the crowd to know was that he is openly HIV positive and has been sober for nine years. The first thing Council Member Costa Constantinides wanted us to know was that the school we were in, P.S. 171, is getting solar panels that he allocated from the city budget.
Unlike the mayor’s town hall I went to in LIC last year, there wasn’t a line outside when I got there. I was only 15 minutes early but the auditorium did fill up eventually. Someone asked if I RSVP’d, and I wondered who actually does that.
Constantinides listed funds he brought to Mount Sainai Hospital and the library and other things which I didn’t write down. He said Johnson is not just a colleague but “really is my friend.” CoJo in return said Constantinides is “a leader who really gets it.” He said his colleague, chair of the environmental committee, brought $26 million to west of 21st Street, including the $2.5 million for the solar panels.
There was one big drama that took up a lot of the outset of the forum, which came from tenants of the Acropolis Gardens, a large condo building up on Ditmars Boulevard and 33rd Street. The 600-plus unit building is facing foreclosure as of last Monday after its board missed a payment. Continue reading “Speaker Corey Johnson comes to Astoria”
State Senator Michael Gianaris (Astoria, LIC, Sunnyside) has joined in the call to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, a position popularized by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ stunning primary victory against Rep. Joe Crowley. Last Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on WNYC Radio, “Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is right” and, “We should create something better.” U.S. senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren have also joined in the call.
Gianaris called for abolishing ICE at a rally for Yeni Maricela Gonzalez Garcia, a Guatemalan mother who crossed the country to reunite with her three children in East Harlem. “This was an agency that was created after 9-11 to combat terrorism,” Gianaris said in Long Island City. “Not to separate women from their children… We should abolish ICE immediately and then we should abolish Donald Trump at the ballot box as soon as we can.” (See video here w/ ICE remarks at 1:05.) State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas was there too. Continue reading “State Sen. Gianaris joins in call to abolish ICE”
A music venue billed as a concert hall, recording studio and youth educational-programming space on 35th Street in the Kaufman Arts District survived Community Board 1’s approval process for its liquor license last night. The space is called ARC, and is associated with music blog, DMNDR (somehow, apparently). Some construction has been done on the space at 36-35 35th Street between 36th and 37th avenues (also 36-30 36th Street)
apparently in place since 2014* but a liquor license should really turn on the show in this quiet northeast section of Long Island City.
With some good news for the elevated N/W line in Astoria comes a new idea. Last Wednesday the MTA presented Community Board 1’s transportation committee with a plan to build much-called for elevators at the Astoria Boulevard station. Today, the board voted unanimously to send a letter (posted below) to NYC Transit proposing a permanent shuttle along 31st Street to bring even more accessibility along the whole elevated line. Anyone who needs an elevator would be able to take the two-way shuttle to Astoria Boulevard or down to the Queens Plaza station for the E, M, or R trains. Thirty First Street is currently served by the Q102 bus between 30th Avenue and Queens Plaza (map PDF).
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer clashed with Streetsblog NYC over the weekend. Last Friday, Streetsblog published a story titled, “Jimmy Van Bramer Called for a Protected Bike Lane on 43rd Avenue a Year Ago Today. Now He’s Undecided.” The post came a year after Corona resident Gelacio Reyes was killed on his bike by a drunk driver. The tragedy galvanized support for enhancements such as protected bike lanes in the 43rd and Skillman avenues area in Sunnyside. JVB indeed supported that. But at a March 26 town hall, he said, “Nothing is a done deal, this is a proposal,” Streetsblog reported. “I listened to every single word that every single person said here today.”
Streetsblog tweeted with its article, “Hard to think of a more brazen about-face on a major street safety project in NYC than @JimmyVanBramer abandoning the 43rd Ave protected bike lane.”
In response, Van Bramer tweeted, “This article is not accurate. I was never contacted by the reporter. I have a full statement I’m sending out soon to correct the record.”
In his statement, the councilman said he still believes in the measures but added his respects for the approval process.
“We are going through the process which, though Streetsblog may not like it, includes the DOT presenting to the local community board… While some may be frustrated with the process, I believe Community Boards play a role and should be included in such plans.”
Streetsblog tweeted in response:
“Statement from @JimmyVanBramer contradicts nothing in today’s story. A year after saying DOT should install protected bike lanes where Gelacio Reyes was killed, he does not support DOT’s plan for protected lanes on 43rd and Skillman.”
JVB had a much better day with the press last week when he was given credit for the city’s decision to remove parked garbage trucks from the streets by the Ravenswood Houses.