Activist fights for rights of disabled women

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By Tammy Scileppi

TimesLedger Newspapers

Big Bird encounters a delivery man with many boxes for 456 Sesame Street. He said someone is moving to Sesame Street. Excitedly, Big Bird runs to tell Maria in the Mail It Shop, where he meets Mrs. Rosen and her daughter Emily. Emily talks briefly about her condition and leaves with Big Bird for a tour.

Just like Telly, Emily is a member of the Triangle Lovers Club. Next, she plays with her pet goldfish Arnold, who makes fast friends with Dorothy and Elmo. Mrs. Rosen drops by again and helps Emily into her wheelchair.

The sun is setting and it’s getting dusk, the relaxing theme of “Sesame Street” plays while Emily plays the theme on her clarinet.

Those were scenes in which 10-year-old Emily Landau was featured on the children’s television show, to educate kids about her life with a physical disability. In 2002, she appeared in several episodes of “Sesame Street,” which were filmed at Astoria Kaufman Studios.

Now 27, Ladau said she is proud of her many accomplishments as an empowered disabled woman, who has become a prolific writer, speaker, and passionate disability rights activist.

The Long Island native maintains meaningful ties with her friends from Queens, where she has connected with other disabled people through her work. She does a podcast with a local resident.

As an advocate, Ladau has fought tirelessly for those in her community who have no voice, hoping to achieve inclusivity for people with disabilities, and tells her readers and followers.

“I live life on wheels and write about it. Disability rights are my passion,” she said.

As a speaker, Ladau often spreads her message about a variety of topics relevant to “really cool people who happen to be disabled.” She also uses her blog, Words I Wheel By, as a platform to address discrimination and to encourage others to understand the experience of having a disability in more positive, accepting, and supportive ways.

Her work has been featured in numerous online publications, including The New York Times, Salon, The Daily Beast, The Establishment, The Huffington Post, and SELF.

In Vice – Motherboard, she writes: “I am not broken. There is nothing that needs to be changed about my state of being. There is nothing I want to change. I am a whole human being whose body moves forward through life in turns of the wheel, and my reality is not for anyone else to decide.”

And she feels deeply about and shares in the experiences of her sisters with disabilities. For a while, Ladau was disappointed with what she saw as a lack of inclusivity by the Women’s March movement and wrote, “What every one of us needs to do right now is dig deeper into these issues, to recognize that disability rights must always have a seat at the social justice table. I feel like my work as an activist has turned me into a broken record, because my urging for people to dig deeper than surface-level mentions of disability is constant. I only wish a major effort like the Women’s March, which is a critical part of the overarching movement for women’s rights, had already gotten this message from the disability activists who have been advocating tirelessly.”

Recently, thanks to Ladau’s strong words and persistent protests, the Women’s March has recognized and embraced women with disabilities as one of their own, and she has decided to join them.

The activist has maintained that social justice warriors and some political candidates seem to forget that there are 56 million Americans with disabilities, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and that this forgotten voting block faces numerous, often unresolved issues in their daily lives, which need to be addressed through vigorous policies. For instance, only one in three people who are working-age with a disability has a job. Of those, around 400,000, work in sheltered workshops where it is legal to pay people less than minimum wage.

“It’s mind-blowing,” said Ladau, who takes on a host of other crucial issues, including the high rate of domestic violence and sexual abuse suffered by disabled women. She also fights for smooth sidewalks.

At times, the media portrays disability in less than acceptable ways, according to Ladau. And it seems that even in these progressive, enlightened times, many people view disabilities in a negative light, perhaps as a burden to caregivers and even to those using wheelchairs, who are dealing with limitations daily.

These are some of the issues that the activist, who like her mother is living with Larsen Syndrome — a disorder that affects the development of bones throughout the body — has been speaking out about and hoping to change. She said storytelling is at the heart of her work in disability activism, and she addresses everything from practical presentations on using social media for effective advocacy to deeply personal conversations about her experiences as a disabled woman.

Ladau often reminds folks that the rights afforded to all humans by the Constitution do not prevent the stigmatization and injustices experienced by disabled people and points out that it’s why legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act came to exist due to the hard work of activists. Yet, she explains, such legal protections still do not prevent prejudice or exclusion of disability — a major social justice issue.

And considering that one in five Americans has disabilities, she said, “it’s time to learn that disability can intersect with every identity. Every. Single. One.”

In educating people about what it’s like to live with a disability like hers, Laudau said she works with the idea that “if you want the world to be accessible to the disability community, you need to make the disability community and all the ideas and concepts surrounding disability accessible to the world. So, I believe that advocacy is definitely a two-way street. And I work to make my experiences something that people can understand.”

The creative activist said she is very proud of the fact that she has taken her personal passion for disability advocacy and turned it into a professional career. She was recently recognized by the American Association of People with Disabilities with the Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award.

“With that award comes some funding that I’m going to use to begin a disabled writers fellowship program,” she said. “So I’ll be working with writers with disabilities through an organization I work for called Rooted in Rights, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief of the blog, and I’m going to be mentoring young writers with disabilities and helping them find a pathway as they start their careers.”

Pointing out that language and labels are important in describing people with disabilities, Ladau said she prefers to be called ‘a disabled woman’ vs. ‘a woman with a disability.’

“I would say my disability doesn’t define me as a whole person. It’s one aspect of my multi-faceted ID,” she said. “And I do consider disability to be an identity and something that I’m proud of, so in the same way that I say, ‘I am a Jewish woman,’ I put the identity before the word ‘woman.’ It’s something I consider to be a part of me.”

With her mom being disabled, young Ladau grew up in an environment where that was all she knew.

“Since my mom and I share the same disability. I have always had a built-in role model in my life who really showed me how to advocate for myself and how to fight for the things that I need and someone to show me that having a disability doesn’t mean that you cannot live a full life,” she said.

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Source: Times Ledger

Electeds blast NYPD for failing to help victims of sexual violence

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By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Far Rockaway), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, and Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), the chair of the Committee on Women, held a joint hearing last week where they blasted the NYPD for failing to help victims of sexual violence, especially those abused by acquaintances.

“A recent report from the [Department of Investigations] saidthe Police Department has been knowingly neglecting victims of sexual assault since 2010 and undoubtedly before that,” Richards said April 9. “Stranger rapes have been prioritized over acquaintance rapes, but nearly 90 percent of sexual assaults in New York City are committed by an acquaintance.”

A DOI report released in March found there were only 67 detectives in the Adult Sex Crimes Division of the NYPD tasked with tackling 5,661 cases in 2017, according to Rosenthal.

To even come close to truly undertaking the amount of cases in the city, the report said the department would have to hire at least 73 additional officers, said Rosenthal.

“Investigators are not being properly trained, facilities are not suitable, and wait times are extensive,” said Richards. “It is no wonder that victims don’t report more often.”

To address the problems with the Special Victims Division in the NYPD four bills were proposed. One was for sensitivity training, another for a modern case management system, a third for evidence-based staffing and a final one for training and investigating sexual crime.

“We respectfully oppose the legislation being proposed,” said Oleg Chernyavsky, the NYPD’s legislative director, about the dramatic changes suggested, because they did not want “to dilute the [police] commissioner’s authority.”

Richards also criticized the existence of more “white badged,” or younger officers, in the squad vs. “gold badged” officers, but Chernyavsky was not having it, and said a memo about the qualifications of the officers wasn’t entirely accurate.

“To call these investigators very inexperienced is misleading,” Chernyavsky said. “The average experience of an investigator coming to SVD is 6.6 years, and of the applicants only 20 percent are accepted. The supervisors have 8.1 years.”

Richards hopes that the bills go forward, because they would include 10 weeks of specialized training for officers before they are allowed to question victims of sexual misconduct or violence.

City Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) also weighed in on the report.

“With just 67 detectives in the NYPD’s Special Victims Division, it is clear that sexual assault is not a priority in New York City,” said Adams. “It is troubling that many sexual assault cases are not properly investigated due to a lack of staffing. Victims of sexual assault deserve better as all sexual assaults should be treated as high priority crimes. We need an immediate solution to correct these systemic problems by increasing the staffing levels within the sex crimes units.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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Right to Counsel law explained to Elmhurst residents as free legal representation comes to Queens

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By Bill Parry

TimesLedger Newspapers

When Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation last August to provide low-income New Yorkers with universal access to legal representation for wrongful evictions, the city became the first in the nation to establish this type of law.

The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition and Catholic Migration Services hosted a town hall meeting in Elmhurst last week to explain the details of the new law, such as why the Right to Counsel is so important, the eligibility requirements, how to find an attorney, which Queens zip codes will begin implementing RTC, and how to build tenant power.

After learning that 11433, 11434, and 11373 are the first Queens zip codes to have the law phased in, more than 150 tenants at the meeting in St. Bartholomew Catholic Academy in Elmhurst broke into small discussion groups to discuss the issues with attorneys and organizers.

“I’m so excited that Right to Counsel became a reality. This new right gives tenants access to free legal representation but also gives them a new tool to build power,” Catholic Migration Services Tenant Organizer Lorena Lopez said. “As tenants learn about this right and use it to defend themselves against evictions, I believe they’ll feel empowered to take more action and build stronger tenant associations. These communities will stand up, protect each other and when that happens, tenants win.”

Prior to Right to Counsel, nearly no tenants had legal representation in Housing Court — estimated as just 1 percent in 2013 by state court officials — which resulted in high incidences of evictions and unchecked tenant harassment. To help close the gap, the de Blasio administration dramatically increased the availability of city-funded legal services for low-income tenants, increasing funding for legal assistance for tenants facing eviction or harassment from $6 million in 2013 to $62 million in 2016, a tenfold increase.

The program successfully increased tenant representation in Housing Court from 1 percent in 2013 to 27 percent in 2016. At the same time, residential evictions by marshals declined by 24 percent, allowing 40,000 people to remain in their homes during 2016 and 2017, according to City Hall.

“It’s been five years since the on-and-off fight to keep my home started,” Elmhurst resident Martin Hernandez said. “Getting the help of Catholic Migration Services and its attorneys has been instrumental in being able to stay in our homes and defend ourselves. That’s why I’m thankful not only for the help I have been able to get, but now with the Right to Counsel, all low-income families in New York will be able to access the legal assistance we have always needed. The Right to Counsel will empower us to continue with our struggle to have decent housing and equal rights.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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Borough opioid kingpin indicted: City

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By Bill Parry

TimesLedger Newspapers

The alleged ringleader of a deadly Queens drug ring and three co-conspirators were arrested and indicted last week in connection with sales of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine after a year-long investigation by law enforcement, the city’s special narcotics prosecutor said.

Police conducted a court-authorized search at the home of Dionne “Slay” Sharrow, 35, a resident of the Powerhouse luxury condominium at 2-17 51st Ave. in Long Island City. Among the property seized was a loaded firearm, nearly $590,000 in cash and a cherry red 2015 Lamborghini parked in the building’s garage, according to the special narcotics office.

Police had been monitoring the crew as part of a investigation prompted by the fatal overdose of a 26-year-old Brooklyn man in 2016 due to a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which is nearly 50 times stronger than heroin and is largely responsible for the overdose deaths in New York City. The investigation linked the Queens crew to the overdose of a 42-year-old Kew Gardens man last May.

Sharrow; Pablo Vallecillo, 39 of Jamaica; Antonio Lopez, 40, of Howard Beach; and Jason Keating, 41, of Jamaica, were charged with multiple counts of conspiracy and criminal sale of a controlled substance, according to New York City’s Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan. The office serves the district attorneys in the five boroughs.

“The escalating toll of overdose and addiction has become unbearable to all but the drug dealers and traffickers who peddle death in $10 bags,” Brennan said. “As this investigation demonstrates, drug crimes are far from victimless and we will be relentless in pursuing those who profit from destroying the lives of others.”

Sharrow is accused of supplying heroin, fentanyl and cocaine to the three other suspects, who in turn allegedly sold the lethal drugs to dealers in Queens, Brooklyn, Orange and Ulster counties, according to the charges. Police conducted a search of a Bath Beach, Brooklyn apartment Sharrow used as a “drug palace” and found 22 pounds of narcotics stashed in couches, an oven and other hiding spots, Brennan said.

Vallecillo was arrested at the location after police watched him enter with a backpack full of cash. Lopez and Keating were arrested near their homes, where police recovered a shotgun, two loaded pistols and hundreds of heroin-filled glassine envelopes prepared for distribution, according to the charges.

The Queens DA’s office reviewed and submitted wiretap applications for court authorization during the investigation.

“Heroin, unfortunately, has made a deadly comeback in New York City and in the surrounding suburbs,” Queens DA Richard Brown said. “While homicides and vehicular deaths have decreased in recent years, sadly opioid overdoses have skyrocketed. We are witnessing heroin being mixed with the synthetic drug fentanyl, which is up to 50 times more potent than heroin alone. My office will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to do everything possible to stop this epidemic and take dealers who peddle heroin laced with fentanyl and other deadly drugs off the streets of our communities.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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Queens group voices concerns amid Canarsie Tunnel closure plans

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By Mark Hallum

TimesLedger Newspapers

When L train service is suspended next April for repairs to the Canarsie Subway Tunnel, the founding members of the transit group Access Queens worry that the MTA is not seriously considering the impact the displaced Brooklyn straphangers will have on the already packed No. 7 Train.

A joint open house in Ridgewood between the MTA and the city Department of Transportation April 12 outlined an ambitious plan to move people from Brooklyn and Queens into Manhattan during the 15-month period in which a portion of the L train will be shut down for tunnel repairs.

The plan will temporarily shift road layouts and bus lanes to accommodate increased bus and road traffic, while ferries, an up-and-coming city favorite, will also be part of the effort of moving the estimated 200,000 daily L train riders to their jobs and back home.

“If you do the math and then you add in the population growth, obviously a good chunk of those people are going to funnel onto the 7 train, which is already having signal problems despite CBTC having been installed,” said Brandon Mosley, one of the Access Queens founders. “There’s just a lot of questions. This is the first event the MTA has held in Queens [regarding the tunnel closure], but they’re not really looking at Queens as a whole – the 7 train specifically – to say we have a major issue here.”

But the MTA said its effort factored in capacity on the No. 7 and the line should be able to support an overflow of people from Brooklyn.

“We’ve been aggressively preparing robust service plans for the Canarsie Tunnel reconstruction project and expect the 7 train to have enough capacity for additional riders boarding at Court Square while the project is underway,” MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said. “We’ll also vigilantly monitor conditions and deploy personnel to help customers as they navigate unfamiliar routes.”

The Canarsie Tunnel was one of nine underwater right of ways flooded during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and sustained the most amount of damage to tracks, signals, signal lines, power cables, communication lines, lighting and ducts along the over 7,000-foot stretch.

Walls must be rehabilitated to ensure the structural integrity of the tunnel.

“They don’t really have a precise way to know who is gong to use which lines, so they’re making assumptions and no one thinks the 7 line is as bad as it is,” said Melissa Orlando, another founding member of Access Queens. “People who don’t ride the train don’t understand how bad it is… There’s kind of like a disconnect from what’s actually happening and I think they’re really not anticipating, not able to anticipate, what’s actually going to happen.”

During peak hours, DOT will turn curbside parking on 14th Street in Manhattan into a bus lane with an HOV lane to provide bus service across the Williamsburg Bridge starting at the Bushwick Avenue stop of the L and will include redesigns of Grand Avenue

“The 15-month closure of the L train is an unprecedented challenge. DOT and MTA have been doing extensive analysis and planning, and we expect to release more information shortly,” a DOT spokesman said. “We think that a substantial group of people will choose to bike, and encourage it as a safe, comfortable, and environmentally efficient mode of transportation. DOT is working hard to provide an expansion to safe cycling infrastructure in both Brooklyn and Manhattan as part of the L train tunnel shutdown work to ensure that any additional cyclists are well accommodated. DOT and MTA will continue our ongoing work in engaging, reviewing, and evaluating the mitigation plans prior to, during, and after the partial L train shutdown.”

The representatives from Access Queens were grateful, however, that the MTA took into account their suggestion to provide free walking transfers between the G and the No. 7 at Hunters Point Avenue.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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Source: Times Ledger

Kew Gardens residents fighting for 116th Street speed bump

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By Gina Martinez

TimesLedger Newspapers

Residents who live on 116th Street in Kew Gardens are calling out Community Board 9 for ignoring a traffic survey that emphasized the necessity of speed bumps to calm traffic on the street.

Mk Moore, a CB 9 member and resident of 116th Street, was among those who pressed the community board in February 2016 to submit a petition to request a traffic survey from the city Department of Transportation. Members argued that they needed a resolution to ease the dangerous traffic and parking conditions on 116th Street caused by a major project on Park Lane South that moved even more traffic onto the street.

By February 2018, the DOT had completed multiple traffic surveys on the street that determined vehicles were traveling at 40 mph on a 25 mph residential street and recommended safety changes that included speed humps, redirection of traffic to one way and return of over 25 parking spaces from no standing zones to legal parking.

Despite the DOT’s suggestions, and despite initially agreeing to any and all of their safety recommendations, CB 9 voted to oppose the speed bumps based on single-family homeowners on the block complaining that brake squealing would disrupt their peace.

Now Moore and over 50 other community members are fighting back, saying CB 9 places safety second and is prioritizing the interests of homeowners over renters and condo owners. Moore said everyone deserves an equal vote and representation in matters of importance.

The petition “116th Street Safety First” was posted on gopetition.com April 13, and had garnered more than 50 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. Directed at Borough President Melinda Katz and CB 9, the petition asks that the board implement all of the DOT’s recommended safety measures for 116th Street and restore all available parking spaces to the community.

“For the first time ever, a public body voted to oppose speed humps on a street at Community Board 9,” the petition read. “Why would anyone oppose a speed hump? What could possibly cause a community board to vote down a speed hump that the DOT determined was necessary to protect the public? How can a community board even have the right to overrule the DOT on a matter of public safety?”

Moore and other residents plan to present their case at the May CB 9 meeting. He said if the board does not overturn its decision, they plan to take their case to Superior Court under an article 78 proceeding, which is used to appeal the decision of a New York state or local agency to the New York courts.

CB 9 1st Vice Chair Kenichi Wilson said DOT originally suggested 4 speed bumps, two close to the co-ops where Moore lives by and two more further down by the individual homes. Wilson said the speed bumps by the co-ops were too close to a slight turn where cars could lose control in slippery conditions. Wilson said in the end he respects Moore and other community members desire for a speed bump but majority rules.

“There’s a lot more people who didn’t want the speed bumps so you have to go with the majority,” he said. “I always try to do what’s best for the community. There are a lot of good reasons for speed bumps but also drawbacks, we took it all into consideration and had a discussion and came to a decision.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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Source: Times Ledger

Ulrich pushes for expanded sanitation services on Jamaica Avenue

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By Gina Martinez

TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (D-Ozone Park) has funded another clean-up project, this time expanding sanitation services along Jamaica Avenue to seven days a week.

The new cleanup will add two days of litter basket pickup between 80th Street and 114th Street on Jamaica Avenue. The councilman, who has already funded several initiatives to “beautify the community” in Ozone Park and Far Rockaway, secured $14,815 in funding for the expanded sanitation services until the end of the fiscal year.

Ulrich partnered up with the city Department of Sanitation to fund the initiative.

“Jamaica Avenue is one of the busiest commercial strips in Queens and, in certain areas, garbage accumulates faster than it can be picked up,” he said. “Even with five days of litter basket pickup, it is a great challenge for local business owners to keep it clean.”

DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said she was proud to partner with Ulrich to expand service to one of Queens’ best-known commercial corridors.

“This additional cleaning service will help make residents’ shopping experience more enjoyable, add vibrancy to this important business district and, best of all, keep Queens beautiful,” she said.

Earlier this year, Ulrich announced a series of upgrades and clean-up efforts at the Albert Road Triangle in Ozone Park. The councilman said the former eyesore, located at the corner of Albert Road, North Conduit Avenue and 99th Place, used to be a hot spot for litter, graffiti and illegal concrete dumping. Ulrich also funded a clean-up initiative in Broad Channel targeting trash-prone areas between the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge and the Broad Channel Athletic Club.

Additionally, Ulrich also secured more than $85,000 in funding for the expansion of sanitation services along Cross Bay Boulevard between Liberty Avenue and 165th Avenue to include additional trash pickup locations and mechanical broom sweeping services.

The councilman said ensuring the quality of life of his constituents is a top priority and he plans on funding more initiatives in the future.

“I am proud of all that we have been able to accomplish together,” he said. “This past year, my office made several investments that will beautify our community, and we are far from finished. Our community is the cleanest it’s ever has been, and I am confident that we will continue to make great progress in the years to come.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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Source: Times Ledger

Ulrich pushes for expanded sanitation services on Jamaica Avenue

See this story at TimesLedger.com.

By Gina Martinez

TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (D-Ozone Park) has funded another clean-up project, this time expanding sanitation services along Jamaica Avenue to seven days a week.

The new cleanup will add two days of litter basket pickup between 80th Street and 114th Street on Jamaica Avenue. The councilman, who has already funded several initiatives to “beautify the community” in Ozone Park and Far Rockaway, secured $14,815 in funding for the expanded sanitation services until the end of the fiscal year.

Ulrich partnered up with the city Department of Sanitation to fund the initiative.

“Jamaica Avenue is one of the busiest commercial strips in Queens and, in certain areas, garbage accumulates faster than it can be picked up,” he said. “Even with five days of litter basket pickup, it is a great challenge for local business owners to keep it clean.”

DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said she was proud to partner with Ulrich to expand service to one of Queens’ best-known commercial corridors.

“This additional cleaning service will help make residents’ shopping experience more enjoyable, add vibrancy to this important business district and, best of all, keep Queens beautiful,” she said.

Earlier this year, Ulrich announced a series of upgrades and clean-up efforts at the Albert Road Triangle in Ozone Park. The councilman said the former eyesore, located at the corner of Albert Road, North Conduit Avenue and 99th Place, used to be a hot spot for litter, graffiti and illegal concrete dumping. Ulrich also funded a clean-up initiative in Broad Channel targeting trash-prone areas between the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge and the Broad Channel Athletic Club.

Additionally, Ulrich also secured more than $85,000 in funding for the expansion of sanitation services along Cross Bay Boulevard between Liberty Avenue and 165th Avenue to include additional trash pickup locations and mechanical broom sweeping services.

The councilman said ensuring the quality of life of his constituents is a top priority and he plans on funding more initiatives in the future.

“I am proud of all that we have been able to accomplish together,” he said. “This past year, my office made several investments that will beautify our community, and we are far from finished. Our community is the cleanest it’s ever has been, and I am confident that we will continue to make great progress in the years to come.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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Source: Times Ledger

Student-designed playground breaks ground in Flushing

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By Gina Martinez

TimesLedger Newspapers

Flushing residents will be able to enjoy a new environmentally friendly playground designed by IS 250 students in the fall.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, New York State Director Carter Strickland of the The Trust for Public Land and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, joined IS 250 Principal Tara Mrwik and students to break ground on the construction of a new green playground Monday that will serve the school and surrounding community.

BP Katz announced that the $1.2 million playground, located at 158-40 76th Road, will serve over 17,000 residents within a 10-minute walk of a park and will include a running track, turf field, basketball practice hoops, tennis courts, trees, outdoor classroom space, game tables, and new fitness equipment.

The green infrastructure will also capture 1.2 million gallons of stormwater every year and improve the health of Flushing Creek.

Katz called the playground a significant investment in the future of Flushing.

“This student-designed and environmentally friendly playground will be a critically important recreational resource that will help our children be physically active,” she said.

The IS 250 playground is funded through the Queens Borough President’s Office, Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest), the Department of Environmental Protection, and supporters of The Trust for Public Land.

All The Trust for Public Land playgrounds include student participation in the design process, where the students are provided with hands-on learning of the science, math and architecture that goes into designing playgrounds and a chance to voice their thoughts on what their school’s playground needs. All 398 students at IS 250, as well as parents and neighbors, contributed to the playground design.

Lancman thanked the students for their participation.

“Today is a special day for our community as construction gets underway for the new playground at 250Q,” he said at the groundbreaking. “This playground will be built with input and insight from those who know playgrounds best — the students at 250. I am proud to provide funding to help make this new playground a reality, and look forward to seeing the playground when it is completed.”

DEP’s partnership with the Trust for Public Land and the DOE has produced more than a dozen playgrounds throughout the city. The green infrastructure design elements are a hallmark of The Trust for Public Land’s playground work. DEP said the playgrounds’ design features help reduce stormwater runoff that can flood streets and overwhelm sewer systems and allow for untreated water to end up in rivers and bays.

Each playground absorbs hundreds of thousands of gallons of water annually and includes 20-30 new trees that bring shade and better air quality to their neighborhoods. Similar playgrounds are also being designed in the Bronx River and Flushing Bay watersheds, according to DEP.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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Long Island City girl, 14, missing since Friday: NYPD

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By Esther Animalu

TimesLedger Newspapers

Police were searching for a Long Island City girl who has been missing since Friday.

According to authorities, Nataly Juela, 14, was last seen April 20 at 8 a.m. at her school, the Academy for Careers in Television and Film, located at 1-50 51st Ave.

Police described Juela as approximately Hispanic, approximately 4 feet, 10 inches tall and 140 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. She was last seen wearing a black jacket, black Nike sweat pants with white stripes and a black T-shirt with the school’s name written in purple, according to authorities.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). All calls and reported tips will remain confidential.

Reach reporter Esther Animalu by e-mail at eanimalu@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4574.

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Source: Times Ledger