Rainey Park meeting?

The Parks Department with Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer hosted a scope meeting at the Noguchi Museum yesterday to solicit thoughts on the capital project to renovate Rainey Park.

What happened at the meeting? No, really, I’m asking. I only just received notice of the meeting in Astoria Post in my Google-alerts for Rainey Park one day late. JVB posted about the meeting yesterday at 11:05AM but I only seem to have seen his tweets about the Hunters Point Library opening this week and the new NBC show called “Sunnyside.”  A Google search for “jimmy van bramer rainey park noguchi” only brings up notice of the meeting in the Astoria Post article.

A call to JVB’s district office finds that the Parks Department was behind the outreach. And while I didn’t call the press line directly and can’t quote anyone, sounds like it wasn’t a heavily attended meeting. So I don’t know what else to say about the community outreach so far for how $7.5 mil will be spent.

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In other news, Suraj Patel is going to run for NY’s 12th congressional district again.

$7.5 mil goes to Rainy Park

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I like to Instagram the puddles gathering sparrows.

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.”

A video artist remarked on the place, “Meh.”

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.

If this will be anything compared to the $4.5 million renovation at Dutch Kills Playground, it should be noticeable. Let’s see if they address the tree configuration or the Costco shopping carts half in the water below the fence.

 

JVB rallies for separate walkway on QBB

Council Member JVB rallies with Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York, source: Twitter @JimmyVanBramer

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who is running for borough president, rallied with transit advocates this morning for a separate walkway on the south side of the Queensborough Bridge.

The northern outer pathway of the bridge is currently used by both pedestrians and cyclists, with just a narrow painted division down the middle. The full pathway is 11 feet wide and the bike side is two directional. The bridge saw 6,556 bike trips in one summer day in 2017, Transportation Alternatives says.

JVB arrives for rally, source: Twitter: @JimgmyVanBramer

TA had been petitioning Van Bramer to support opening up the southern outer pathway on the bridge for pedestrian use to separate cyclists from foot traffic. The council member is now pushing the Department of Transportation.

A brief note on our representatives after Amazon

There is a narrative that says Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s election victory last year pushed State Senator Michael Gianaris, who endorsed AOC’s opponent before the HQ2 announcement and became the deputy majority leader after he came out against the Amazon deal, to take a more progressive (and possibly more visible) lead when the opportunity arrived. This narrative could extend to Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who also endorsed Rep. Joe Crowley — and thus might have to make up for it.

The New York Times put it this way:

The company’s decision was at least a short-term win for insurgent progressive politicians led by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose upset victory last year occurred in the western corner of Queens where Amazon had planned its site...

Her race galvanized the party’s left flank, which mobilized against the deal, helped swing New York’s Legislature into Democratic hands, and struck fear in the hearts of some local politicians.

Politico New York more or less told the same story:

Gianaris had his own reasons for concern. He witnessed self-described Democratic Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) topple Queens Democratic party boss and longtime U.S. House member Joseph Crowley in a congressional primary last year, and no doubt took notice of her unabashedcriticism of the deal.

After I expressed confusion about this narrative on Twitter yesterday – it seemed like a way of seeing AOC as the center of the political universe – I wondered if it’s possible this whole Amazon debacle actually traces back to AOC, period. I can’t say for sure that’s not how this equation worked, but this whole time, while I’ve mostly not blogged at all and didn’t attend any Amazon hearings or anything, I’ve taken a less linear view. I’ve seen Gianaris and JVB at rallies before, from near or afar, courting the activist community of LIC. Actually, I saw it on 44th Drive, the ragged strip where Amazon planned to build a campus, when the issue was a smaller scale land-use and real estate debate. And I spent four months working on a story learning about how JVB, not only readily separates himself from the mayor, but can be extremely anti-development, an especially sensitive subject in the area.

Are the local politicians, including one who may be running for borough president, being opportunistic? Could be. But the City Council and our local representatives didn’t become progressive, anti-development, anti-ICE, pro-union and populist when AOC showed up — even if they did write a letter supporting Amazon early on.

It’s not important to me to deconstruct what happened. But obviously the sudden lack of an Amazon HQ in Queens leaves us with a certain self-reflection. Queens is still not Brooklyn. Long Island City has a way of not becoming Williamsburg or Downtown Brooklyn — though it is a downtown. What we learned, I think, is that Western Queens is just as much as other places the epitome of what New York is right now, I think. Politico put it this way:

Some supporters of the deal derided Amazon’s… inability to muster the nerve to move forward in a city that has a reputation for fighting development.

JVB: only 11 ppl called to support Amazon since mailers

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer says only 11 people have called his office to support Amazon since the company has sent Queens residents mailers instructing to call him to support it. In a tweet, he said yesterday 21 people have called to oppose the Amazon deal in a total of 32 calls. In a December Quinnipiac poll, Queens residents (identified as “voters”) supported the $3 billion incentive package 55 to 39.

JVB gets Amazon mailer saying to contact himself

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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.