Queens Lawmakers On The Move Feb. 21, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Crowley, Constantinides Demand Answers from Amtrak on Public Safety Risks

U.S. Representative Joe Crowley/via Facebook

U.S, Rep. and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Sunnyside, Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside, the Bronx) and City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) wrote a letter yesterday to Amtrak officials demanding answers on its failure to properly maintain its properties and address significant public safety risks.

Residents in Queens have long-expressed alarm over Amtrak’s refusal to adequately manage its properties and mitigate the environmental and infrastructural concerns of the community.

In the letter, Crowley and Constantinides called on Amtrak to uphold their obligations to the public by repaving and reconstructing the public right of way surrounding 23rd Avenue between 36th and 35th Streets.

City Council Member Costa Constantinides/Facebook

“It is shameful that a federal agency has such a concerted disregard for the communities it most directly affects and touches,” wrote the lawmakers. “The residents of Astoria deserve to be able to walk on the sidewalk without fear of tripping into a gaping hole. It is a basic expectation that, unfortunately, Amtrak has failed to deliver on. Beyond that, the lack of care and concern for the neighborhoods Amtrak does business in is not limited to this location alone. In fact, Queens is replete with glaring examples of Amtrak’s abdication of their responsibility to maintain their properties.”

Lancman, Holden Support De Blasio Youth Mentoring Program

City Council Member Rory I Lancman

City Council Members Rory I. Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows, Briarwood, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Holliswood, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates,) and Robert F. Holden (D-Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood) yesterday lauded Mayor Bill de Blasio in announcing that an independent study of his administration’s Arches Transformative Mentoring Program revealed that young people involved in the program were significantly less likely to have future justice system involvement.

This multi-year study – Evaluation of Arches Transformative Mentoring Program– was conducted in partnership with the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity by the Urban Institute.

City Council Member Bob Holden

Arches is a transformative mentoring program that uses curriculum-based interactive journaling, group mentoring, and individual mentoring by connecting high-risk young people ages 16 to 24 on probation to credible messenger mentors in their own neighborhoods.

Participants typically take six to 12 months to complete the program, but as the Urban Institute study revealed, many often maintain contact with their mentors and peers long after that time.

“By connecting participants with positive role models, Arches is empowering young people to contribute positively to their communities and stay out of jail. I applaud the Department of Probation for implementing this transformative program,” said Lancman, Chair of the Committee on the Justice System.

Holden said he supports any program that works to keep young people out of prison.

“The reduction in reconviction rates among Arches participants encourages my belief that intervention, education and mentorship can lead to positive outcomes. Based on these findings, I am cautiously optimistic about the program’s prospects, and as a member of the Criminal Justice committee, I will work to ensure this program continues to be low cost and high impact,” said Holden.

Avella Gets Illegal Commercial Lot Padlocked

Sen. Tony Avella

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Flushing, Jamaica Estates, Fresh Meadows, Bellerose, Floral Park, Jamaica, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Kissena Park, Briarwood) yesterday announced that the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) had finally padlocked a residential lot being used illegally for commercial storage.

The lot is on 24th Avenue between 149thStreet and 150th Street. Since 2015, Avella has been in constant communication with the city on behalf of residents in order to find a solution to the multiple hazards emanating from the lot.

The lot, which is owned by Whitestone contractor Salvatore Valenza, was being used for commercial storage despite being in a residential zone and situated between two residential properties. The lot stored trucks, construction materials and equipment, and debris, which created unsightly and unsanitary conditions. Often times the trucks would create noise early in the morning which resulted in a disruptive environment.

“I was very happy to learn that this nuisance was finally padlocked after years of requests from myself and neighbors who wanted to see something done. Padlocking certainly does not completely eliminate the problems created by the illegal commercial use of the lot but this will certainly protect the community from a number of hazardous conditions created by the illegal storage,” said Avella. 

“It’s a disgrace how this property owner can just choose to ignore the law and bully local residents by making them believe they would be at risk of being ticketed or towed if they parked in front of this lot. I am relieved that after all of this disregard for the law the City of New York has finally stepped in to take action,” the lawmaker added.

Peralta Regarding Fatal Hit-and-Run at LaGuardia Airport

State Senator Jose Peralta

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside) yesterday pledged more safety measures following a hit-and-run that killed a cyclist yesterday as he was riding at LaGuardia Airport.

A shuttle bus hit Steven Morales, 36, of Queens at about 7:20 p.m. on Runway Drive and fled the scene, said Port Authority Police. Morales was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead.

“I am saddened to hear about the hit-and-run that killed a cyclist as he was riding at LaGuardia Airport, located in the district. My condolences go out to the family and friends of the 36-year-old victim, who was an employee at Swissport International, according to news reports,” said Peralta.

“As we work together to improve road and safety measures and reduce traffic-related deaths, I am urging the heartless driver responsible for this fatal hit-and-run to turn him or herself in to the authorities,” Peralta added.

Addabbo Supports Remainder of Simanowitz’ Legislative Salary Go To His Widow

Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of the Rockaways) yesterday joined with his senate colleagues to pass legislation (S.7428) to provide the remainder of the late Queens Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz salary for 2017 to his widow, Jennifer.

“We were all deeply saddened when Assemblyman Simanowitz passed away, and our hearts went out to his wife and family,” said Addabbo.  “I considered Mike a friend and a dedicated legislative colleague.  I am glad the Legislature is taking action to lend a helping hand to Jennifer and their children.  While nothing will ever bring back their beloved husband and father, this legislation will at least provide Mike’s family with some financial support.”

Simanowitz, who passed away in September at the age of 45, left behind his wife and four children. The family will receive an amount which represents what the assemblymember would have earned in the legislature from the time of his death to the end of 2017.  Similar bills have been approved in the past for the families of legislators who pass away while serving in office.

The legislation has also been approved by the State Assembly, and will now be sent to Governor Cuomo for his consideration.