BQX: public meetings Feb-June

Screen Shot 2020-01-11 at 11.24.35 AM
A portion of the BQX streetcar line, connecting Queens and Brooklyn, would run through 21st Street from 44th Drive to Astoria Boulevard.

The city will be holding public meetings on the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) through the first half of this year. The Economic Development Corporation’s new BQX website lists workshops in “February/March 2020” and public hearings in “May/June 2020.” The EDC released a conceptual design report in summer 2018.

Screen Shot 2020-01-11 at 11.25.07 AM

Coverage: Crain’s, Queens Courier, Gothamist, Brooklyn Eagle

 

Community Land Trust Considered for Sunnyside Yards Master Plan

SSY4_Protester!
Activists disrupt Sunnyside Yards meeting at Aviation High School.

At a rowdy third* 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.

SSY4_Meagher_Lusskin_door
EDC’s Adam Grossman Meagher (right), LIC Partnership president, Elizabeth Lusskin (red dress) and a man guarding the door from protesters.

Protesters were a major part of this third 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.

SSY_EmergingMasterPlan_slide
A look at how the Master Plan is beginning to shape up.

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.

SSY4_WhatWe'veHeard
Sunnyside Yards BINGO? (Bottom left corner: CLT)

The team plans to have another meeting later this year and a master plan ready by sometime in winter. At this third general meeting, some ideas of how the plan is shaping up were on display. Check out those images in the slideshow below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*This was corrected: the EDC held the third, not fourth general public SSY master plan meeting.

Comptroller comes to LIC to take on City Hall

stringer3

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”

New Hallets Cove kayak launch could look like this

Astoria_kayak_launch_rendering_EDC
Courtesy of the Economic Development Corportation

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.

Continue reading “New Hallets Cove kayak launch could look like this”

Quiet 44th Drive corner becomes rallying ground against EDC waterfront development plan

44thRally_Front_faces_signs

The deep end of 44th Drive west of Vernon Boulevard in Hunters Point is usually a quiet stretch, all concrete and bricks with a great Midtown skyline view. But today several dozen people, including elected officials of the area, held a rally around some parked cars to say no to the city’s current rezoning and development plans for the strip. The current plan calls for rezoning two lots for housing, manufacturing, offices, park space and a school. The protesters say too much is being given away.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Economic Development Corporation put out Requests for Proposals early in 2016 to redevelop 5-40 and 4-99 44th Drive where the Department of Transportation and the defunct Water’s Edge restaurant are. Last summer the EDC revealed its plan with TF Cornerstone as developer. The plan involves 1,000 rental units and 100,000 square feet of industrial space. Some 250 or 25% of the units are supposed to be affordable.

Long Island City Coalition and allies want a shot at influencing a different plan. Part of the issue is population density given the state of transit and what’s said to be overcrowded schools. “We’re being walled in,” a musician said to the crowd. Instead, opponents have floated ideas such as more park space, a community center or a big school. “A permanent solution for overcrowding is this beautiful building,” someone said of the DOT behemoth behind the rally. “This is a public space. We own this,” Brent O’Leary of the Hunters Point Civic Association said.

I asked Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer if he has a plan to bring an alternative plan to the EDC. “EDC has to come to the table,” he said, as in have forums where the community weighs in. I asked how long it will take to get an alternative plan through. “Whatever amount of time that would take, it’s worth taking.”