Queens Lawmakers On The Move Dec. 18, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Katz To Unveil New Vietnam Veterans Memorial In Elmhurst Park

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and NYC Parks on Friday will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Elmhurst Park.

Built on the northwest corner of Elmhurst Park, the first-of-its-kind boroughwide memorial in Queens features the names of 371 Queens service members who died during the Vietnam War or served and are classified as “missing in action.” The memorial also recognizes borough veterans who have since lost their lives as a result of their service during the conflict.

Construction of the memorial has been long sought after by many of the nearly 59,000 veterans who call Queens home — more than any other borough — led by late former Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 President Pat Toro. Prior to his passing in 2014, the Marine Corps veteran was a staunch advocate for a boroughwide memorial to recognize the sacrifices made by hundreds of Queens residents and their families during the Vietnam War.

Following Toro’s lead, current Chapter 32 President Manuel Edenhofer, former group president Michael O’Kane and Vietnam Veterans of America National President John Rowan were instrumental in continuing to seek the funding needed to design and build the memorial.   

The memorial’s design and construction was fully funded by Borough President Katz, who has allocated $2.3 million in capital funding between FY17-18, which comes on top of the $550,000 first secured in FY08 by then-City Councilmember Katz.

The ribbon-cutting is slated for 10 a.m., this Friday, Dec. 20 at Elmhurst Park, northwest corner of Grand Avenue and 79th Street in Elmhurst.

Meng Has Mixed Feelings On House Passage Of Spending Package

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park), a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee—which funds the federal government—issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed two spending packages that total $1.4 trillion.

“Over the last year, I’ve worked closely with my colleagues to shape government spending and policy. I’m proud that House Democrats, in a bipartisan fashion, secured so many victories across the two spending packages that help families, students, children, and seniors,” said Meng. “But our efforts to minimize and reverse the Trump administration’s dangerous and racist policies toward immigrants were stonewalled by the Republican-controlled Senate and White House.”

Meng said this GOP stonewalling produced instead of a bill that is humane toward immigrants, “the final Homeland Security spending bill does not prohibit the administration from continuing to build its border wall; continues to allow the Trump administration from putting asylum-seekers in danger or prevent them from reaching U.S. soil to claim asylum, such as the ‘Migrant Protection Protocols;’ and fails to include protections for TPS/DED recipients. Most of all, this final bill does not limit President Trump and DHS’s authority to transfer and reprogram funds for the purpose of detention, enforcement, and border wall construction; in essence, this bill is a blank check that allows the White House to continue stealing from congressionally-appropriated funds to perpetuate his anti-immigrant policies.

“America is and always will be a nation of immigrants. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, and the subcommittee that crafted the original House-Homeland Security bill, I do not take this vote lightly. But I will not turn a blind eye to those in need, and that is why I voted against the Homeland Security package.”

Koo To Announce Loading Zones Doubled In Downtown Flushing

City Council Member Peter Koo/via Facebook

City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) today will join with Flushing businesses and the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to announce the addition of five new loading zones to the downtown Flushing area. 

These five new loading areas will effectively double the number of existing zones in the transportation hub and help to alleviate double parking and traffic congestion in the area.

Koo will make the official announcement at 3 p.m., today Dec. 18 at 133-55 41st Avenue in Flushing.

Van Bramer Rallies In Support Of Commercial Rent Regulation Bill

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer/Facebook

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside), last Friday rallied in Sunnyside with small business owners, activists, and residents rallied in support of the city’s proposed commercial rent control bill (Int. 1796-2019). 

Van Bramer is a sponsor of Council Member Stephen Levin’s (D-Brooklyn) bill to create a Commercial Rent Guidelines Board that would regulate commercial rents just like the Rent Guidelines Board does for apartment rents. Any retail spaces at or less than 10,000 square feet, manufacturing spaces at or less than 25,000 square feet, and professional services or other office spaces of 10,000 square feet would be under its purview. The Board will determine rent increases by factoring in commercial real estate taxes, sewer and water rates, and gross operating and maintenance costs.

“Saving and protecting small businesses is among the most important things we can do for our community”, said Van Bramer. “We must empower small business because they are the life-blood of our community. Even when small businesses are successful, it appears they are punished for bringing business to their store in the form of increased rent.”

According to a City Comptroller report, vacant commercial space has doubled over a decade, up to 11.8 million square feet in 2017. The press conference was hosted in front of the recently closed Dave’s Bagels. Natural Frontier in Long Island City is expected to face a similar fate as Dave’s Bagels.

Sanders to Provide Assistance with Property Tax Exemptions

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) will be hosting the first of a three-part event series with the Department of Finance (DOF) to assist homeowners in reducing their property taxes and to aid tenants in applying for a rent freeze. 

The first event is slated for between 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 7 at Battalion Pentecostal Church, 454 Beach 67th Street in Arverne. Call Senator Sanders’ Office to RSVP at 718-327-7017 or 718-523-3069 for more information.