Issues: Community Development

Senator Lee Zeldin Tours Brookhaven Rail Terminal

On August 5th, 2013, Senator Lee Zeldin (R, C, I—Shirley) toured the Brookhaven Rail Terminal. Having added two large temporary warehouses and extended rail links, the facility is providing a welcome economic boost to the Long Island economy and job market. The public officials were given the opportunity to see the progress being made at the facility first-hand as Brookhaven Rail Terminal President, Andy Kaufman (not pictured), led the tour.

August 8, 2013
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Senator Stavisky, Congresswoman Meng, Councilwoman Koslowitz Speak Out to Save Community Garden

Elmhurst, NY—Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens) and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) gathered at the Elmhurst Community Garden today to call for a delay of the property sale so that community members have an opportunity to conserve or relocate the garden, which is located on private property.

July 26, 2013
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July 29th Community Meeting Regarding Development Project on Myrtle Avenue

Please click and view the attached flyer for meeting details. 

July 23, 2013
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Be Our Guest: Affordable housing plan for Willets Point is reduced and could be doomed

As reported by the Daily News:

By State Senator Jose Pealta:

If City Hall put a wrecking ball to 2,000 units of affordable housing to make room for a shopping mall, it would be front-page news and there would be no end to the outrage.

That’s essentially what’s happening at Willets Point. Unfortunately, it’s hardly causing a stir with anyone other than local affordable housing advocates.

The Willets Point development plan agreed to by the City Council in 2008 called for a a mix of retail space and housing, including the construction of 820 homes for families making $38,400 a year or less; 330 homes for families earning between $38,400 and $46,080; and 770 units for families earning from $46,080 to $99,840.

For full article, click here. 

July 1, 2013
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Senator Gianaris Attends Woodhaven Town Hall

(Woodhaven, NY) Senator Michael Gianaris addressed dozens of attendees at the Woodhaven Residents Block Association Town Hall meeting on Saturday. Woodhaven residents offered their opinions on topics ranging from broad  issues such as transportation and public cleanliness to more specific issues like the future of a recently collapsed building on Jamaica Avenue. Amplifying these Woodhaven worries is the concern that the most recent bout of redistricting has divided the neighborhood into multiple State Senate districts. Senator Gianaris reassured those present that his advocacy on their behalf would not be diminished by an imperfect redistricting process.

“Woodhaven is a one of a kind neighborhood with its own unique issues and concerns,” said Senator Gianaris. “I will ensure that the needs of Woodhaven residents are represented in the State Legislature as we work to preserve and improve this vibrant community.”

June 26, 2013
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Senator Peralta Invites All Children To Join His Summer Reading Program

Senator Jose Peralta is inviting all students in kindergarten through eighth grade to participate in the New York State Senate's Summer Reading Program.  This program is aimed at assisting children keep their reading skills honed and minds sharp during their time away from school.

With the end of the school year in sight, many students are anxiously awaiting the summer months. To keep school age children in the mindset of learning, the New York State Senate, in conjunction with the New York State Library, offers the Summer Reading Program to students across the State.

Participating students will use an online journal to keep track of their reading progress throughout the summer. Children who submit a completed journal will receive a Summer Reading Certificate. To have the children register, please visit www.nyread.com.

June 7, 2013
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Calls For Affordable Housing Continue

As reported by the Queens Tribune:

The debate over the Willets Point redevelopment plan continues, as the City Council and community members calling for more affordable housing seemingly refuse to move towards middle ground.

One side wants to see affordable housing built in Willets Point right away, or at least see a guarantee of affordable housing, while the other wants to build a community in a an undeveloped area before building housing complexes, which would include affordable housing units.

For full article, click here. 

June 7, 2013
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Calls to put housing ahead of mall at Willets

As reported by the Queens Chronicle:

Housing advocates, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods chanted “What do we want? Affordable housing!” across the street from Citi Field on Friday, decrying what they considered a lackluster push for it in Willets Point and calling for a new agreement between the city and the development group selected to rejuvenate the Iron Triangle.

For full article, click here. 

June 7, 2013
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Willets housing vow lost to city’s legal fears

As reported by the Times Ledger:

Developers of the $3 million Willets Point project are not contractually required to build affordable housing in part because the city wants to shield itself from a potential lawsuit.

The Bloomberg administration did not want to risk paying out legal damages to the developers — Related Cos. and Sterling Equities, the real estate arm of the New York Mets — should the city fail to build additional ramps off the Van Wyck Expressway, an essential precursor to constructing the housing component of the project, officials and the companies said at a recent meeting.

For full article, click here. 

June 6, 2013
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Serrano Legislation Encouraging Investment in State Parks Passes New York State Senate

Senator Serrano Passes Bill to Rehabilitate State Park Buildings

June 4, 2013
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Locals Worried About Affordable Housing Promise In Willets Point

As reported by NY1:

Willets Point has had a development plan in the works since 2008, but after a recent revision, some are worried the city won't keep its promise regarding affordable housing.

To view video, click here. 

June 4, 2013
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Peralta to Mayor: Keep Affordable Housing Promise

State Senator Jose Peralta was joined by the Queens Housing Coalition and Make the Road New York today in calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to “stop the bureaucratic wrecking ball” that has laid waste to more than 1,000 units of affordable housing slated to be built in Willets Point and threatens the construction of all of the 1,920 affordable units that were supposed to be built.

The Willets Point development plan agreed to by the City Council in 2008 included the construction of 1,920 units of affordable housing.  Construction was to begin at the outset of the development process, or after the initial remediation.  Under a revised plan, construction of 875 affordable units will not begin until at least 2025, if at all.

“If they put a wrecking ball to 2,000 units of affordable housing to make room for a shopping mall, it would be front-page news and there would be no end to the outrage,” Sen. Peralta said.  “That’s exactly what’s happening here.  It’s just as outrageous.  It’s just as unacceptable.

“Mr. Mayor, stop the bureaucratic wrecking ball.  Let’s hold everyone to their word and provide the affordable housing this community so desperately needs.  That way, in a few years, instead of a New York City mayor coming into this community to complain about a census undercount, the visit will be to tout this area as a model of mixed-use development where everyone has a dignified place to live.”

Former New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. said: “Middle-class and working-class families in Queens and around the City need more affordable housing. I’m concerned about plans to scale back the development of affordable units in Willets Point and urge Mayor Bloomberg to recommit to building quality, affordable housing in every borough.  As Mayor, I will work to expand middle-income and low-income housing so we can end the middle-class squeeze and allow more New Yorkers to remain in the City they love.”

Assemblyman Francisco Moya said: "Developers have an obligation to address the needs and concerns of the local community.  All too often we have seen in working class neighborhoods and communities of color that promises are not kept.  The community surrounding Willets Point needs to be guaranteed by the developers and city officials that the one element of this project that will benefit residents the most will be fulfilled: the construction of affordable housing units.  The proposed delays and reduced number of units is not acceptable.  I look forward to working with the City Council, local community boards, and the Queens Development Group to make sure that our voices are heard, promises are kept, and that we will not have our communities needs pushed to the side."

Council Member Julissa Ferreras said: “Affordable housing is a necessity for Willets Point and has always remained my priority.  Since day one, I have worked to negotiate with the Administration to secure a fair plan that will ensure 35 percent of the new apartment units being built are affordable housing units. I am appreciative of the support that I have received from my colleague in local government, Senator Peralta, to bring affordable housing to Willets Point now.”

Council Member Daniel Dromm said: “It is unconscionable that the Administration is spending substantial resources on enticing a major league soccer stadium to the area but refuses to reaffirm a commitment to ensuring that affordable housing will be included in any future development at Willet's Point.  New Yorkers who work hard and live in the area should be prioritized over special interests who will give little back to the community.”

Ivan Contreras, Coordinator of Queens Housing Coalition, said: "According to the official contract between the City and the Joint Venture neither party are legally obligated to build the ramps which are needed to develop the housing part.  This means that they can walk away from the project leaving the community with a mall, a hotel, a retail center and a parking lot and not building a unit of housing. I don't think this is what the community wants and needs.  New York is in a housing crisis we need affordable housing and we need it now"  

Leandra Requena, Queens resident and member of Make the Road New York, said: "Members of the community fought hard for affordable housing to be included in the original Willets Point agreement.  Now the developers are backing away from this commitment.  After a history of broken promises, the City should not allow this developer to build a mall at Willets Point, especially when this community does not need yet another mall."

As the plan stands now, there may be no affordable housing ever constructed as part of the Willets Point development.  That's because housing construction may not begin until the city builds additional exit ramps off the Van Wyck Expressway.

The problem is that the city appears to have no intention of completing such construction before 2024, delaying the building of affordable housing until at least 2025.  Moreover, if the ramp construction is not completed by December 1, 2025, the developer, the Queens Development Group, is under no obligation to build any affordable housing whatsoever.  And, ultimately, it could be the Queens Development Group deciding when the ramps are built, should the developer undertake the job.

But even if the ramps are built in a timely manner, the developer may buy its way out of its affordable housing obligation.

“These conditions put the construction of any affordable housing units in serious doubt,” Sen. Peralta wrote in a letter last week to Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Christine Quinn and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.  “My community and other communities affected by the Willets Redevelopment simply can’t afford to wait or rely on conditional promises.  We need answers and we need results.”

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May 31, 2013
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Senator Valesky’s Expanded Pride of New York Legislation Passes Senate Bill Will Encourage Restaurants to Use Local Foods

ALBANY, N.Y.—Legislation creating a program to recognize restaurants featuring local products promoting New York-grown products sponsored by Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) passed the Senate today.

May 30, 2013
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Kennedy, Ryan Welcome New Homeowner to Recently Renovated 19th Street Home; Announce Major Housing Grant for Buffalo’s West Side

Lawmakers announce $175,000 in state funds from NYS Affordable Housing Corporation to help rehab five more homes for ownership opportunities in 19th Street neighborhood. 

New homeowner Gary Damon Jr. accepts the keys to his 19th Street home, which Homefront Inc. recently rehabilitated, in a ceremonial key presentation. 

Kennedy: Homeownership has always been at the heart of the American Dream, and this state funding will help local families live the American Dream right here on Buffalo’s West Side.

May 16, 2013
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University of Rochester Breaks Ground on College Town

Earlier today, I had the privilege to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Rochester's College Town. College Town will be located on the corner of Mt. Hope and Elmwood, and will offer 500,000 square feet for retail, a hotel, a parking garage with 1,500 spaces, restaurants, and housing on a 14-acre development. The project received a $4 million grant from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.

May 2, 2013
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Senator Kennedy Passes Key Bill to Boost Service Collaborative of WNY; Will Save Local Non-Profit $20,000

Kennedy’s bill will result in estimated $20,000 cost savings for The Service Collaborative, allowing them to invest more in neighborhoods, local non-profits. 

Legislation now needs Assembly approval and Governor’s signature. 

Kennedy: The Service Collaborative is Committed to Improving Quality of Life in Buffalo and WNY, and This Will Help Them Reduce Overhead Costs and Invest More in Our Community.

April 29, 2013
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Senator Serrano Writes Letter to the U.S. Postal Service Urging them not to Relocate the Tito Puente Post Office branch in East Harlem

Senator Serrano wrote a letter to the United States Postal Service (USPS) urging them to keep the Tito Puente Post Office branch open at its current location in East Harlem. The USPS has proposed the downsizing and relocation of this branch. This branch is the only Post Office located in the upper section of East Harlem, and it's relocation would burden countless residents who will not be able to utilize their services. Click link below to read full letter.

April 18, 2013
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Carriage Factory Renovation Ground Breaking

Earlier this afternoon, I had the privilege to join in the ground-breaking ceremony to mark the renovation of the Carriage Factory Apartments. These are located on Litchfield Street in Rochester. The building, which was built in 1910 and has been vacant for the past 25 years, was once home to Cunningham Carriage Factory. Once renovations are complete, it will include 71 units of affordable rental housing to accommodate people with special needs through DePaul Community Services Inc. For more information on DePaul, visit http://www.depaul.org/.

March 28, 2013
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Legislative Update

I spoke with Cypress Hills Local Development Corp. Homeownership Director, Lisa Maldonado for this week's Legislative Update.

March 22, 2013
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