Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer received one of the mailers Amazon has been sending to Western Queens residents. The latest tells him to contact himself and tell himself about the 25,000 new jobs or something. I’ve only gotten the first mailer. Of course, JVB addressed the irony in an Instagram story, now a permanent video, in which he makes it clear he won’t be calling himself to advocate for Amazon.
That means, the city is on top of developing a mega housing development over the Sunnyside Yards (a lot of people in Astoria and LIC don’t know what that is, but it’s the huge swath of train land east of Northern Boulevard that you see from either the N/W or 7 trains when approaching or leaving Queensborough Plaza). But when it comes to running a streetcar through LIC and Astoria to connect with Brooklyn, it’s just not there yet.
Also, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer was at the Met Gala, which was Catholic themed. “It’s almost time for this kid from #Queens to head to the @metmuseum for the #MetGala!” he tweeted earlier on. JVB has gone before at least in 2013 and 2014. He was also hanging out with Jesse Eisenberg the other day.
As the Times explains, last year only about 550 people went to the gala, which is invitation only, each invitation overseen by Anna Wintour and tickets cost $30,000. Are all the council members invited? Who sponsored or invited the councilman of the 26th District? I hit him up with questions on Instagram so let’s see if he responds.
The city is officially moving forward on developing a neighborhood over the Sunnyside Yards by launching a master planning process this summer. The Economic Development Corporation announced today that Alicia Glen, deputy mayor of economic development and Anthony Coscia, chairman of Amtrak, which owns most of the space, signed a letter of intent to collaborate on the plan. The EDC’s announcement confirms Crain’s New York Business’ March 29 report that urbanist Vishaan Chakrabarti will be heading the master plan team. But more people are involved! Cali Williams, an EDC vice president for the last decade, now has the title: director of Sunnyside Yard. And a steering committee headed by Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the Long Island City Partnership and Sharon Greenberger, head of the YMCA for Greater New York (what?) will be consulting on the plan. But wait… what about elected officials who don’t want this to happen?
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district spans both the LIC and Sunnyside sides of the yards, has been vocal against this project. How the EDC and mayor’s office will be able to push this ahead without the support from the 26th city council rep, I’m really not sure. The yards would have to be rezoned to allow residential development and super tall buildings, something the council member would have to approve. Sunnyside Post reported shortly after the EDC’s announcement today that JVB and State Rep. Catherine Nolan, who also opposes the plan, complained the city went around them on this. Well of course.
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.
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 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.”
“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.
Joelle, 17 (orange vest), one of the organizers of today’s Women’s Ride in Queens: “As a woman being a cyclist, there’s a lot of gender discrimination” in the form of mansplaining or street harassment, she says. “So we wanted to say women should feel strong & impowered to ride.” pic.twitter.com/3Ym5A6Gw0K
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer will be at LaGuardia Community College tomorrow for the opening reception of “The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens,” an exhibit on the last 25 years of LGBT activism in Queens.