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 Costa Constantinides, screenshot from City Council webpage
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, screenshot from City Council webpage
The Astoria Postreports that City Councilman Costa Constantinides is probably eyeing the Queens borough president seat for 2021 when Melinda Katz vacates. Constantinides, who is serving his final term as council-member, held a fundraiser with a maximum donation of $3,850, the top limit allowed for borough president. A flyer for the fundraiser reads, “I hope I can count on you as we expand upon our legacy and fight for higher office after my current term ends.” If true, this makes the second city council member from Western Queens eying the beep race. It was revealed in February that Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer formed a Queens Borough President exploratory committee.
Participatory budgeting, where council district constituents get to vote on how to spend a million bucks, starts today in districts 26 (Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside) and 22 (Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside too).
In Astoria, items up for a vote include a hydroponic science lab at LIC High School, lighting upgrades at Astoria Houses Community Center, a tool shed at Two Coves Community Garden and road surfacing.
In LIC, items include bus countdown clocks, trees, a gym at Queensbridge Park, a soil science lab at Ravenswood Houses, tech upgrades at P.S. 112 in Dutch Kills and other schools and playground renovations at P.S. 111 in Ravenswood.
A $33.3 million deal was made to put up a seven story, 200-unit, mixed-use building in Dutch Kills at 37-11 30th Street, Real Estate Weekly reports.
“Dutch Kills, which sits just south of Astoria, has not seen the same level of investments as other sections of Long Island City, such as Hunters Point, Court Square and the area around Queensborough Plaza. Before Avenue and Slate bought the 37-11 30th Street, the only high-end housing project in the area was the Lightstone Group’s ARC complex, which is located two blocks to the south.”
Sometimes I wonder if Astoria (not Jackson Heights) is actually the most diverse neighborhood in the United States. In any case, it’s diverse for sure and has a lot of immigrants. And maybe that makes State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas suited for fighting the U.S. Commerce Department’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
In a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Simotas writes:
“As a representative of a diverse community in New York that is home to a large population of immigrants, I am deeply concerned that a citizenship question would deter many of my constituents from participating in the census and prevent them from receiving critically needed resources over the next decade.”
I’m not sure where other Queens lawmakers are on this. Mayor Bill Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman protested the concept in February. Googling the World’s Borough on the issue, I found a quote from Queens College professor Andrew Beveridge, who told the Washington Post the citizenship question would shift representation to Republican districts. “All of the districts with non-citizens in them and all of the districts with kids in them would have less representation.”
Simotas argues in her letter that most people in her district live in “hard-to-count” neighborhoods and only 68.4% of households returned their questionnaires for the 2010 census.
Secretary Ross has argues it will be worthwhile. “The citizenship data provided to DOJ will be more accurate with the question than without it, which is of greater importance than any adverse effect that may result from people violating their legal duty to respond,” Ross said, The Hill reported.
Simotas argues that her district, with it’s history of already low questionnaire turnout, will be worse off. “With heightened fears of immigration enforcement and anxieties over the confidentiality of census data, it will be even more challenging to collect and complete, accurate information.”
I think we’ve all tried one time or another to walk through the crowds of teenagers on the sidewalk along Broadway at Long Island City High School. Even at the far west end, it’s a busy road down there, so maybe that’s why during the nationwide and citywide student walkout against gun violence yesterday, LIC High School students spent their 17 minutes of protest on the football field.
A federal crackdown on the MTA for failing to comply with disability standards for a subway renovation in the Bronx has created an alliance between Trump-appointee U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman and Democrats such as State Sen. Michael Gianaris. “The MTA’s continued emphasis on style over substance wastes scarce resources, hurts transit riders, and stunts our economy while its failed Enhanced Station Initiative continues to cosmetically renovate stations without improving service or accessibility,” Gianaris said, reports City and State. There has been outcry in Astoria as renovations on the N/W line don’t include elevators.
The MTA plans to prepare Long Island City’s transit for the 2019 L-train shutdown by removing the airport-type automated walkway and widening and adding stairways at the Court Square hub and creating a free transfer between the 23-Ely Ave G and Hunters Point Ave 7 stops as Vice explains. In its Queens angle of the shutdown, the piece delves into the concerns people in Queens are having.
“The members appeared frustrated, not just with what the shutdown could wrought, but what this area of New York City will face in the coming years. According to severalreports, Long Island City has witnessed the most apartment construction in America since 2010, with thousands of additional units in the works. If there’s no infrastructure in place to handle the shutdown, what does that mean for the entire region’s future?”
One day, I can almost make it out in the distance, the clouds will part, and the N/W stations at 36th and 30th Avenues will reopen and we won’t have to simply stay in our homes all day. But until then, small businesses near these stops say they are suffering. State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas hears them. She has introduced a bill that would offer the business owners tax credits if they see a 25% loss due to a state or city project.
Of course this made me wonder about the Second Avenue Subway. Efforts were made to protect those businesses from the decade-long construction (longer than our eight months) but all I see is grant proposals that were specific to the area. Simotas’ bill in contrast is wide-reaching, applying to the whole state, presumably forever and would apply to “infrastructure” projects in general, according to Queens Chronicle. The stations are expected to reopen in June, the month when the 39th Ave and Broadway stations are set to close.