Queens Lawmakers On The Move May 1, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Katz Kicks Off “Jamaica Together” Initiative

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and community leaders today will kick-off the “Jamaica Together: A Neighborhood Cleaning Effort” initiative.

“Jamaica Together” is a six-month pilot program that will provide weekday cleanup services along Guy R. Brewer Boulevard from Tuskegee Airmen Way to 109th Avenue in Jamaica, as well as additional workforce training and development opportunities.

The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE) will provide the clean-up services workers as part of its mission to provide individuals with the skills, support services and motivation to obtain and sustain full-time employment and economic independence.

The kickoff is slated for 11 a.m., today, May 1 at the Thomas White, Jr. Foundation, 162-04 Tuskegee Airmen Way in Jamaica.

Dromm Thai New Year Street Festival A Great Time

City Council Member Daniel Dromm

Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) and Elmhurst entrepreneur and resident Juttana “Moo” Rimreartwate on Saturday hosted the third Thai New Year Street Festival on Woodside Avenue between 75th and 77th Streets in Elmhurst.

Attendees enjoyed Muay Thai kick boxing demonstrations, yoga and pilates classes, special music and dance performances and samplings of delicious Thai cuisine.

The New Year festival, called “Songkran,” is the most important holiday for the Thai community.  The holiday is rich with symbolic traditions, and is a time for family reunions and an annual house cleaning. Those observing Songkran also visit local temples and offer food to the Buddhist monks.

Dromm and Rimreartwate founded Elmhurst’s first Thai New Year Street Festival in 2016 as a way to highlight the outstanding cuisine and rich performing arts tradition that can be found in Elmhurst’s Thai Town.

“I am thrilled to co-host another Songkran celebration in the heart of Elmhurst’s Thai Town once again,” said Dromm. “From their renown cuisine to a rich performing arts tradition, Elmhurst’s Thai community has it all.  It was a pleasure to partake in this exciting celebration with residents from every nation.  I am proud to represent Elmhurst in the NYC Council and will continue to bring additional programming and cultural celebrations like these to our neighbor.”

The festival was part of the NYC Department of Transportation’s Weekend Walks series. Weekend Walks are multi-block events held on commercial corridors that promote the use of streets as public space. They highlight local businesses and the city’s unique neighborhoods.

Avella and Northeast Queens Community Leaders Rally Against DEP Bioswales

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) and civic leaders from across Northeast Queens rallied last Friday against the Mayor and Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) decision to continue to push their infamous bioswales program against the wishes of the community.

Avella and the community members are still calling on the city to grant a full opt-out of the program. Bioswales are landscape elements designed to concentrate or remove debris and pollution out of surface runoff water.

Recently, DEP’s green spray paint markings, which signal the beginning of the bioswale installation process, have begun showing up on sidewalks in Whitestone. With these green markings usually come soil testing, a process that looks and sounds more like an oil drilling operation than an environmental test, to determine the viability of a bioswale at the location. This invasive process has only enhanced community opposition to the project due to the damage that was being done to homeowners’ property.

To address local concerns, the DEP has agreed to a number of concessions and improvements to the program including two alternate bioswales designs and an opt-out for those with sprinklers or those with a handicap placard. However, Avella still believes that a full opt-out is needed.

“The decision by DEP to offer certain opt-out provisions was a great first step. However, it is also incredibly insufficient. The Mayor and DEP cannot continue to force this upon these residents. This community and the city as a whole deserves the right to a full opt-out no matter the reason,” said Avella.

“Installing a bioswale in front of someone’s home is a serious burden on the homeowner. It could cause environmental hazards from the untreated contaminated stormwater, it requires unnecessary maintenance by the homeowner, and could reduce the value of the property. To force a homeowner to take a bioswale that they don’t want and that won’t address any environmental concerns is completely unfair and I hope the City begins to listen to the community and finally offer us a full opt-out,” he added.

Kim & Urban Upbound Celebrate Successful Sixth Year Of Free Tax Prep

Assembly Member Ron Kim

Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, Murray Hill) and his office recently hailed the triumphant completion of another tax season as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site in Flushing.

Since entering office, Kim has remained committed to offering his office as a free tax preparation site for constituents from January through April. This was the sixth straight year that he partnered with Urban Upbound to provide these services through the 2018 tax season, and his office held a private appreciation luncheon on April 25 with volunteers and staffers from

This year, the joint partnership helped New York residents file over 1,263 tax returns with over $717,000 in total tax refund claims. It also helped put over $370,000 back into the pockets of working families through the Earned Income Tax Credit – real money that makes a difference in the lives of ordinary New Yorkers.

“Since the beginning of our now six-year partnership, our constituents have claimed nearly $6 million in total tax refund claims. Many of the families and individuals that walk through our doors are working-class residents, recent immigrants, or New Yorkers with limited language or financial literacy. Some of them have relied on our free tax preparation service since its inception,” said Kim.

“We thank Urban Upbound and their team for continuing to work with us over the years in establishing and maintaining a VITA site at my office. I look forward to continuing this wonderful partnership,” the lawmaker added.

Vallone To Announce Winning Participatory Budgeting Projects 

City Council Member Paul Vallone

City Council Member Paul Vallone (D-College Point, Whitestone, Malba, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, North Flushing, Auburndale) today will announce the winning projects that will be funded in the district through the participatory budgeting vote.

From April 7-15, residents of Northeast Queens cast their votes to decide how to spend at least $1 million of Vallone’s discretionary funding on capital projects to improve their communities.

The announcement is slated for 11 a.m., today, May 1 at Vallone’s District office, 42-40 Bell Boulevard, Suite 507, in Bayside.

Peralta Secures State Funding For Immigration and Housing Services

State Senator Jose Peralta

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside) yesterday announced that he was able to secure a $25,000 allocation in this year’s state budget for Asian American for Equality (AAFE).

The funds will help the nonprofit continue to provide housing, immigration, legal and social services to New Yorkers in need of assistance. Peralta made the announcement during a visit to AAFE’s Jackson Heights location at 93rd Street.

“In the current political climate, it is vital that organizations like AAFE keep providing essential support services to constituents who are in need of help,” said Peralta. “Since the election of the current president, immigrants in my district and across the city go about their daily lives with fear in their eyes. Protecting immigrant and hard-working families, who enrich our lives and our city, has always been a top priority for me. I am glad I was able to secure state funding for AAFE in order for the nonprofit to continue serving our communities.”

AAFE, founded in 1974, advocates for equal rights. It has transformed in the past four decades to become one of New York’s leading housing, social service, and community development organizations. The nonprofit works with clients one-on-one to ensure their rights to safe housing and other services. The community-based organization, located at 93-03 Roosevelt Avenue, has multilingual staff that is fluent in Spanish, Chinese and English.