Queens Lawmakers On The Move Dec. 11, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Vallone: Northeast Queens to be Considered for Expansion of Ferry Service

City Council Member Paul Vallone

City Council Member Paul Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone) has received word that Citi Field Marina and Fort Totten will be among locations studied in the city Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) Ferry Feasibility Study, which began this fall with a public survey soliciting proposed locations.

The forthcoming feasibility study will examine factors including water depths, population density, existing access to transit, and travel time comparisons between modes.

“We will certainly consider all the feedback received along the Queens waterfront, including the locations outlined in your letter: Citi Field Marina and Fort Totten,” the letter from EDC President James Patchett reads. “We will do our due diligence through this study to determine sites that are most feasible based on ridership demand, ferry navigability, and route planning.”

Since entering office, Vallone has advocated that the city implement ferry service in Northeast Queens, a transportation desert with limited public transportation options for commuters. Other Queens lawmakers lobbying for the ferry service in coordination with Vallone were former City Council Member Julissa Ferreras and current Council Members Peter Koo and Francisco Moya.

“While the city has announced and established ferry service in other areas of the city, transportation deserts like Northeast Queens have been overlooked,” Vallone said. “I have advocated for a Willets Point Ferry and also supported studying Northeast Queens’ shoreline for other feasible locations due to the demand from local communities, economic opportunities and the lack of transportation alternativ­es. Ferry service in Northeast Queens could provide a new, affordable way to travel between waterfront communities in NYC, and I welcome news of the feasibility study. I look forward to working with EDC throughout this process.”

Van Bramer Backs Report Saying City Amazon Subsidy Could Cost Public Education

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside) yesterday highlighted a new report by Good Jobs First, a DC-based watchdog group on economic development incentives, that sheds light on how tax breaks for corporations—like the nearly $3 billion in tax cuts and subsidies included in the Amazon HQ2 deal—can cost public schools millions of dollars in revenue.

In the newly released report titled The New Math on School Finance: Adding Up the First-Ever Disclosure of Corporate Tax Abatements’ Cost to Public Education, Good Jobs First examined Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports of more than 5,600 school districts across the country and found that “schools in 28 states lost at least $1.8 billion over the last fiscal year as a result of corporate tax subsidies.”

“This report is disturbingly relevant to the corporate tax breaks included in the Amazon deal. It makes clear that corporate leaders choose their site locations based on the availability of a skilled workforce, not the availability of tax breaks, and that New York schools have already lost millions of dollars in revenue because of similar corporate tax breaks. The nearly $3 billion in corporate welfare handed to Amazon by our City and State was completely unnecessary and will only work to deflect more funding away from public education and other vital community services. How about instead of giving away billions of dollars in tax revenue to a trillion dollar company, we use that new revenue to hire more teachers, reduce class size, and invest in the students of Long Island City,” said Van Bramer.

Kim Stands With Straphangers Alliance In Opposing Fare Hikes

Assembly Member Ron Kim

Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) yesterday joined progressive leaders and riders in demanding Governor Cuomo provide fair funding and not a fare hike to fix transit in the next state budget

Many of these advocates, speaking at yesterday’s fare hike public hearing urged the governor to create a fair funding plan to fix the subway, including the institution of a congestion pricing plan for Manhattan. Adopting congestion pricing would raise more than a billion dollars annually to start restoring transit reliability, increasing system capacity and making the subway accessible, with hundreds of new station elevators, advocates against the hike say.

Kim said asking everyday New Yorkers to foot the bill for the MTA’s shortcomings is wrong and completely unfair.

“I believe that using fare hikes to restore our broken infrastructure is the wrong answer, and that commuters should not be forced to shoulder the burden of fixing issues they didn’t cause. We as a city and state should be providing the public funding needed to resolve our transit system crisis. My colleagues and I will do all that we can to ensure the ones most affected by this problem are not the ones most harmed by the solution,” said Kim.

Constantinides Unveils New Hydroponic Lab at I.S. 126

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, part of Long Island City) joined with educators and innovative science professionals yesterday to open a new hydroponic laboratory at I.S. 126 in Astoria, another major step in his Science 2050 budget initiative.

A remarkable 11 schools in Council District 22 have received funding for labs since Constantinides took office in 2014.

“Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are the careers of the future, which is why it’s important we give tomorrow’s leaders hands-on opportunities today,” said Constantinides, who also chairs the Committee on Environmental Protection. “I hope I.S. 126  students will greatly benefit from this lab, as students throughout our district will in generations to come. Thanks to New York Sun Works and the faculty of I.S. 126 for your partnership on this project.”

Hydroponic labs are a vital component to the Constantinides plan to embolden science education in his district’s public schools. This innovative technology allows students to grow plant life with a relatively low amount water and mineral solutions instead of soil. Not only do hydroponic labs offer hands-on biology education, they also teach students about agriculture, technology, and nutrition. Hydroponic labs also employ ladybugs rather than pesticides to protect plants.

Constantinides allocated $160,000 in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget to install the lab at I.S. 126, located at 23rd Street and 31st Avenue. Other schools either operating a lab or earmarked to receive one include: P.S. 122, P.S. 70, P.S. 17, P.S. 84, I.S. 141, Long Island City High School, P.S. 171, P.S. 85, Q300, and the Young Women’s Leadership School.

New York Sun Works installed the hydroponic lab at I.S. 126 and trained faculty on how students can get the most out of this technology.

Nolan Cuts Business Education Center Ribbon at LCC

Assembly Member Catherine Nolan

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Astoria, Woodside, Long Island City, Maspeth, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Dutch Kills, Blissville) last week joined Empire State Development President Howard Zemsky, LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein to open the new Goldman Sachs ‘10,000 Small Businesses’ Education Center at LaGuardia Community College.

“I was honored to take part in the ceremony to unveil the new Business Education Center in LaGuardia Community College” said Nolan.  “Thank you to Commissioner Howard Zemsky and Dr. Gail Mellow for organizing this event.  This enhancement of LaGuardia marks a welcome new investment into both the college and our community.”

The funding for the project was provided through New York State’s CUNY 2020 initiative.

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