Constantinides Announces FY19 Budget Victories for Western Queens

    City Council Member Costa Constantinides

    City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights)last week said the city’s recently passed $89.2 billion included big wins for Western Queens in the areas for public spaces like schools, hospitals, and parks.

    “I am honored to help pass this comprehensive and balanced budget. We are proud to invest in our infrastructure, our public spaces, and our most vulnerable populations. This budget will make our neighborhood more sustainable, improve health care, give students the resources they need in our public schools and libraries, and begin to repair our vital transit infrastructure,” said Constantinides, adding a thanks to both City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, his council colleagues, and Queens Borough President Katz for their support in western Queens and across our city.

    According to Constantinedes among the highlights that will help western Queens include:

    Making Astoria Greener and More Sustainable

    Through discretionary funding, the council has made a large investment in solar panels. PS 171 and other schools throughout the neighborhood will have solar panels installed, further reducing our reliance on dirty fossil fuel plants that pollute our communities. Students will also have an opportunity to learn about renewable technology up close.

    The council also expanded the Greener NYC Initiative by $510,000. Each Council Member will now have $70,000 to help provide environmental education programs, green job training, and sustainability planning throughout the City, ensuring the young people of our city will be able to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century.

    Constantinides also fought to secure over $108 million in additional funding to fix broken sewers and clean up our waterways. Most of New York City has a combined sewer system, where raw sewage and stormwater runoff are taken to wastewater treatment facilities in the same sewer mains. During heavy rains, these combined sewers are often at capacity, causing the excess to drain directly into our rivers and waterways via combined sewer outfalls. This funding will be used to build additional capacity and treatment infrastructure around the city, reducing the amount of pollutants and harmful bacteria in New York City’s ecosystem.

    Protecting Immigrant Communities

    In Astoria, Constantinides was able to secure over $70,000 in funding for the Ansob Center for Refugees and Immigrants to help continue providing services to new Astorians such as English language classes and citizenship classes.

    The Council also boosted funding to the CUNY Citizenship Now program by $500,000. This program provides each Council office with an attorney trained in immigration affairs. The program has already helped scores of immigrants here in Astoria. If you would like to make an appointment for advice, please call the Council Member’s office at 718-274-4500.

    Constantinides also allocated over $1 million to public schools. As part of his ongoing investments to improve science learning spaces in our public schools, six schools received hydroponic and stem labs.  Long Island City HS, PS 171, PS 85, Q300, and the Young Women’s Leadership School will all receive funding for hydroponic science labs where plants and equipment will be installed in classrooms that use water and other mediums for plant growth. These labs provide hands-on education to students in many subjects including biology, agriculture, technology, and nutrition. IS 141 will receive a new stem lab to educate students in science, technology, engineering and math. These schools join PS 122, PS 70, IS 126, and PS 84 that have received funding in previous years. Since Constantinides took office, 11 schools in District 22 have received funding under this program.

    This year, thanks to support from the Trust for Public Land, P.S.84 will be receiving a newly renovated school yard. In partnership with the Borough President, we allocated almost $1 million in funding will be to reimagine the play space behind the P.S.84 building so that countless future generations will have a safe and meaningful place to play.

    The Council was also able to enhance the Cultural After School Adventures Initiative over $2 million. These CASA programs provide students with meaningful after-school enrichment theater programs.

    Additionally, the Council allocated $1 million to a pilot program to bring halal and kosher foods to city schools. This investment will ensure that no child will have to choose between adhering to their religious beliefs and receiving a meal.

    Every year since taking office, Constantinides has secured funding for technology upgrades in all District 22 schools. This year, he invested over $800,000 in funding that can western Queens schools can use to upgrade their computers, laptops, SMART Boards, or other pieces of technology.

    Keeping Astoria Clean

    For the third year in a row, the Council expanded its successful NYC Cleanup initiative by $2.4 million citywide. Constantinides will again allocate over $250,000 for sidewalk cleaning and graffiti removal services using funding from this initiative and from his discretionary budget. Workers will continue to sweep sidewalks on major thoroughfares and remove graffiti throughout the district.

    Improving Healthcare in Queens

    Constantinides and the Queens Delegation secured $450,000 for three ultrasound units and cardiac monitoring systems at Mt. Sinai Queens Hospital. This brings the total Council investment over 5 years to over 7.5 million dollars to ensure that our Queens community has world-class health care and that residents do not have to leave the borough to receive the care that they need.

    Continuing Investment on the Hallets Cove Peninsula

    Constantinides secured an additional $3.25 million for the Astoria Library. This brings the total investment at this library to over $7 million.  Once renovated, the library will have new elevators, ADA compliance, new children’s areas, electronic drop-off and new technology. Constantinides also allocated $150,000 for new lighting at the Astoria Houses community center and $100,000 for additional security cameras there. This brings the total city investments on the peninsula to over $25 million over the past five years.


    Addabbo Bill Creating Tax Credit For Small Businesses Gets To Cuomo’s Desk

    Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

    State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside and The Rockaways) last week saw his legislation (S.3688) creating a tax credit program for small businesses that hire disabled employees pass both the assembly and senate and awaits Governor Cuomo’s final approval to get signed into law.

    “This proposal would help New York’s small businesses hire talented, qualified workers who simply happen to be disabled, and who may find it difficult to obtain employment,” said Addabbo. “Offering tax incentives to small companies to reach out to potential employees with mental, physical or medical disabilities would be a win, win: providing employers with first-rate workers they might not otherwise consider, and enabling disabled New Yorkers to gain work experience and support themselves.”

    Under the legislation, businesses with fewer than 100 employees would be able to receive a $5,000 tax credit for each disabled person they hire, up to $25,000. The employees must work at least 35 hours a week for at least one year for the companies to be eligible for the tax credit. Statewide, $5 million would be available each year to cover the cost of the credits.

    “The employment rate for disabled Americans has been falling, and this tax incentive may help to reverse the trend,” said Addabbo. “According to the 2016 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium produced by RespectAbility, a national advocacy group, New York ranked 36th in the nation in terms of the number of disabled people employed in the state. The job rate for disabled workers in New York came in at 33 percent.”


    Meng To Present Students She Nominated To Attend U.S. Military Academies

    U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

    U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, and Maspeth) today will hold a reception and presentation ceremony for her nominees who will attend the United States Service Academies.

    The students, who will depart for the prestigious institutions later this month after they graduate from area high schools, consist of eight teens from the Queens communities of Bayside, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Glendale and Jamaica. All of the students and their families will be in attendance, and will be available to speak with media.

    The elite service academies include the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York; U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York; and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut.

    Students who wish to attend the nation’s service academies – which prepare America’s future military leaders – are nominated by Members of Congress, and are required to meet the highly competitive educational, physical and extracurricular standards set by the individual institutions.

    In addition to hosting the reception, Meng will present each student with Certificates of Congressional Recognition. Two officials from West Point, a Captain and a Lieutenant, will be the guest speakers.

    The event is slated for 3:30 p.m. today, June 18 at Meng’s Northeast Queens office, 40-13 159th Street (at the southeast corner of 159th Street and Northern Boulevard) in Flushing.


    Sanders Announces $560M in Ocean Bay Apartment Improvements

    State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

    State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale, parts of Far Rockaway) announced last week that residents of Ocean Bay Apartments will soon see improvements at the Far Rockaway complex, thanks to $560 million in government and private funds.

    The money comes from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and private investment to finance essential infrastructure upgrades, support state-of-the-art resiliency and security systems, and the renovation and preservation of the public housing complex.

    “For far too long the residents of Ocean Bay Apartments have lived in less than acceptable conditions,” said Sanders, who himself was born in NYCHA’s Hammel Houses, also in Far Rockaway. “The $560 million investment will bring these deserving residents favorable upgrades, giving them a better quality of life.”

    The aging development was already facing critical maintenance needs and a deteriorating infrastructure before suffering extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy. To this day, the complex relies on temporary boilers. Some of the more notable renovations needed include roof replacements, complete upgrade of elevator machinery and equipment, new boilers and heating systems.

    This is NYCHA’s first conversion under HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), which allows housing authorities to access private capital to meet capital needs while also protecting long-term affordability. Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) is New York City’s implementation of RAD, which includes collaboration between NYCHA, residents, the community and housing advocates.

    Home to nearly 4,000 residents, Ocean Bay Apartments is located along Beach Channel Drive between Beach 54th and Beach 58th Streets. The 395-unit, 24-building complex provides vital affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers.

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