At the height of the back-to-school vaccination rush and in a month dedicated to spreading immunization awareness, the city Department of Health is shutting down the only free-immunization clinic in Queens next week.
Closures at both the Corona, Queens and Tremont, Bronx health centers are scheduled to take place at the crucial time before children need the required immunizations to attend school. The families depending on these services must make their way to the Fort Greene Health Center in Greenpoint, Brooklyn starting Aug. 21.
District Council 37, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), Commissioner on the Public’s Health System Anthony Feliciano, and other community leaders gathered at the Corona Clinic Wednesday to protest what they called “a threat to public health and safety.” The threat came without warning or community input, according to District Council 37.
While New York struggles to recover from the recession of 2008, it is clear that at least one of its major industries is thriving like never before–New York City tourism.
In 2012, the city welcomed a record-breaking 52 million visitors, despite the devastation wrought by Sandy. According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, these tourists, who paid for a total of 29 million hotel room nights, poured more than $55 billion into the city’s economy.
What’s more, the city’s hotel occupancy stands at 87 percent, the highest in the nation. Better yet, there is good reason to believe that tourism remains a growing industry, with much of its potential still untapped, particularly outside of Manhattan. In the past six years, 72 new hotels have been built in boroughs other than Manhattan and a record-high percentage of non-Manhattan hotels are under development for the next four years.
For Pat Martin, president of Friends of LeFrak Library, it is only a matter of time before a child gets seriously injured at a Rego Park intersection near PS 206 – unless, she and other community leaders said, the city does something about it.
“We’re all so scared of the day a child gets hurt there – and after that, the city will put in a crossing guard, but we shouldn’t have to wait for that,” Martin said of the intersection at Junction Boulevard and Horace Harding Expressway that is routinely crossed by elementary school students on their way to PS 206.
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.
A dangerous Queens intersection near an elementary school may get a lot safer.
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) has asked the city to place a speed camera at Junction Blvd. and Horace Harding Expressway. He co-sponsored a recently passed law to provide 20 speed cameras in various school zones.
The Rego Park intersection is about two blocks from Public School 206, which lost its crossing guard there several years back due to budget cuts, Peralta said.“It will at least slow people down when they realize there’s a camera there,” Peralta said. “We don’t want any kids injured when they’re crossing the street.”
Elected officials and Transport Workers Union Local 100 representatives gathered in Astoria last week to demand the MTA restore station agents at subway booths who were removed throughout New York City in 2010.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who spearheaded the rally, joined members of TWU Local 100, along with City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), outside the Steinway Street-Broadway station in Astoria June 6 as part of a citywide day of action and petitioning to highlight the need for restoring station agents and booths across the city’s subway system.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Legislation raising New York’s minimum wage didn’t please everybody in Albany, but the final agreement, which incrementally increases the wage to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, was acceptable enough for both houses and the governor to sign on.
That bill is likely to be the biggest piece of legislation directly affecting the state’s workers this year, but there have been other important changes as well—and still more are under discussion.
NUEVA YORK — En los ocho años que Sabino Benítez lleva residiendo en Corona, Queens, no ha podido encontrar una vivienda asequible y hubo épocas en que tuvo que alquilar una habitación de su apartamento para poder completar el alquiler.
"Los que tienen vivienda económica son los que llevan décadas en sus apartamentos", dijo Benítez.
Benítez y su esposa Paulina Durán tienen dos hijos de ocho y nueve años, y son de las familias que están a la espera de que se construyan viviendas asequibles en el plan de desarrollo Willets Point, ubicado detrás de Citi Field, el estadio de los Mets, pero al perecer esa espera será larga y muchos líderes temen que al final los residentes se queden con las manos vacías.