Constantinides and JVB both eyeing BP seat (prolly)

The Astoria Post reports 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.

H/T Astoria Post

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JVB in street fight with Streetsblog

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43rd Ave in Sunnsyide, Google Maps screen shot

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 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 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. 

Women’s Ride sets off from Queensbridge

Women gathered on bikes at Queensbridge today ahead of a seven-mile ride to Borough Hall to highlight the gender gap in the cycling community and to call for more bike lanes in Queens.

A few notes:

More notes after the jump

Continue reading “Women’s Ride sets off from Queensbridge”

Ravenswood has so much development and CB1 wants to know how you feel about that

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The nor’easter in Ravenswood, 11 a.m., Wednesday, March 21

At this month’s Community Board 1 full meeting, members said they’d be sending out a survey for Ravenswood area residents. The idea, apparently, is to have some measure on how residents feel about changes happening in the area in regards to all the development going on. This should help the board in future land use reviews and all that kind of stuff. The same survey will go out throughout CB1 but it will start in Ravenswood because there’s so much development happening here. I think I can name some of it:

The twin Alma towers at 34-46 Vernon Boulevard. It looks finished, doesn’t it? But someone pointed out to me recently the fences weren’t on the balconies yet. 

The seven-building Halletts Point development.

The site at 11-23 31st Drive which was recently bought for $8 million and holds 33,982 square feet of residential potential. 

And to be honest, IDK what else, except maybe all those hotels in the IBZ

The survey will go out to tenants association type groups CB1 members said but be on the lookout for it in local newspapers, if you guys read those things. 

A few notes: 

  • $450,000 year-round exercise equipment at Queensbridge park, a $500,000 soil science lab at the Ravenswood Houses? These are a couple of the eight ideas that are up for a vote in the 26th council district at the 4th round of participatory budgeting
  • A 7 Train Coalition launched to fight gentrification along the 7 line but I wish they’d call it Occupy the 7 Train. 
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney and other electeds are rallying for early voting in New York. 
  • Did you know March 20th was Queens Day? Here’s State Sen. Gianaris talking about it in Albany: 

 

Continue reading “Ravenswood has so much development and CB1 wants to know how you feel about that”

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

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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.

 

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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.”

Politics and free food

 

I stalked Councilman Jimmy van Bramer today. Well, for five minutes I swung by the annual black history month celebration at the Jacob Riis Settlement at Queensbridge. I stood quietly in the back and noticed there was lots of free food. JVB honored a whole bunch of people. Here’s a whole list of them. What I heard sounded like a tribute to people making their community a great place by doing things such as anti-violence work.

A year ago, QB was recognized for going one year with no shootings. The streak was marked over in May. Early this year a woman caught a stray bullet by the F train station. I’m not sure what else has gone on over there other than last summer’s mural wars. Nothing like the Roxanne Wars. The film about the QB rapper Roxanne Shante will be on Netflix soon BTW. But anyway I think the event highlighted all the good stuff people are doing there.

So here’s what I think is also important: JVB said a few days ago he will run for borough president.

Here’s Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s statement on Black History Month that just came in my inbox. Why is it war themed?

A few notes:

  • Sam Roberts wrote an obituary that includes the name Samuel Robert. Read it for a history on the Kaufman Astoria Studios.

“In 1982, Mr. Kaufman, the scion of a century-old New York real estate family, led a group of investors in rescuing the Queens complex…”

  • Good news for Gibney’s girls.
  • Old news: A few days ago Councilman Costa Constantinides announced he’s officially going through with making over Steinway Street: he wants there to be mid-block crosswalks and a plaza. But I’m… not sure when and how? And he doesn’t seem to be sure where this plaza will be. Too bad no one reads this yet. I’d say, post your opinion on where the plaza should go.