Stavisky, Braunstein testify in support of SHSAT

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By Carlotta Mohamed

TimesLedger Newspapers

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) and state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) are standing firm in their opposition against the mayor’s proposal to phase out the admissions test into specialized high schools.

Both elected officials testified in support of the SHSAT at the Community Education Council 25 meeting held Oct. 3 at PS 21Q Edward Hart School, located at 147-36 26th Ave. in Flushing.

Stavisky said she supports having both diversity and the SHSAT exam.

“I believe we must keep the test because the SHSAT does not recognize race, gender, religion, or ethnicity. It is still the most objective method to determine admission,” said Stavisky.

In June, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to increase enrollment of disadvantaged students and scrapping the single admission test through new legislation.

According to de Blasio, only 10 percent of specialized high school students are black or Latino, despite the fact black and Latino people make up 70 percent of the city’s overall population.

In response to de Blasio’s plan, local elected officials have taken action to stop the passage of the legislation.

“I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that this ill-conceived plan never becomes law,” said Braunstein. “I am proud to have successfully worked along with Sen. Stavisky and my colleagues in the Assembly Asian Pacific American Task Force in June to successfully block the passage of the mayor’s proposed legislation, and we will continue to fight it when we return to Albany in January.”

Stavisky and Braunstein were the only elected officials to testify at the meeting. Both lawmakers have worked closely with the advocates to provide alternatives to the elimination of the exam, including better preparing children at a younger age for academic excellence and building new Specialized High Schools.

Phil Wong, of Flushing, rallied with parents outside of the school who are a part of the Coalition EDU — a network of alumni, students, parents, and others who support the traditions of the Specialized High Schools of New York City.

The group voiced its concerns during the meeting and condemned the mayor’s proposal.

The parents are opposed to changes to the Specialized High School admission criteria that are based on race, ethnicity and lottery. The admission criteria should be only merit based, Wong said.

“This means good students will be denied the best schools, and students who are not prepared will be inserted into the best schools,” said Wong.

According to Wong, failing students who get inserted into specialized high schools will have a little chance of succeeding simply because they’re unable to keep up with the work.

“We are telling the mayor and chancellor today that this so-called reform does not fix our schools. The parents, teachers, and students will all be victims of this experiment,” Wong said in his speech. “He is denying admissions to Asians and then replacing the current SHSAT with a race-based quota. We all know from Brown vs. Board of Education that school admissions based on race is illegal and cannot be enforced. I envision lawsuits will be filed to stop these racist policies from being implemented.”

Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmohamed@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4526.

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Source: Times Ledger

LaGuardia Community College to play key role in city’s new cyber security initiative

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By Bill Parry

TimesLedger Newspapers

LaGuardia Community College is joining forces with the city to create jobs to fight cyber threats.

The Long Island City-based institution will partner in a new initiative led by the city’s Economic Development Corporation called Cyber NYC, to “transform New York City into a global leader of cyber security innovation and talent to combat one of the world’s greatest threats,” according to the NYCEDC

Cyber NYC is expected to help spawn 10,000 good-paying jobs in the coming decade, providing an inlet to many New Yorkers from non-traditional backgrounds, particularly those from low-income families or who are otherwise disadvantaged. LaGuardia is the only community college specifically named as a program partner in Cyber NYC, as it has one of the largest tech training programs in the New York metropolitan area.

“Cyber NYC is an important investment by the city of New York as it provides a route into the well-paying, in-demand field of cyber security for all New Yorkers — enabling them to make better lives for themselves and their families,” LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow said. “With our experience training the next generation of tech professionals — more than 3,500 New Yorkers come through our technology programs each year — our bridge programs prepare students for high-intensity careers in the ever-changing world of work.”

LaGuardia will create what is known in the tech industry as a “Cyber Boot Camp,” where adults with minimal familiarity with cyber security will be placed in a six-week preparatory course at it’s Long Island City campus. The participants in the program will learn the basics of industry software and terminology, before continuing on to another boot camp operated by Fullstack Academy software development school in Lower Manhattan.

The Cyber Boot Camp will place more than 1,000 students in jobs that have an average starting salary of $65,000 per year over the first three years of the program.

“New York City needs to be ambitious about cybersecurity because our future depends on it,” NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett said. “Cyber NYC will fuel the next generation of cybersecurity innovation and talent, leveraging one of the world’s greatest threats to create a major economic anchor and up to 10,000 quality middle-class jobs.”

Cyber security attacks occur every 40 seconds across the globe, with over 3.8 billion internet users being affected in 2017, according to the NYCEDC. With key industries in finance, healthcare, retail and media — all major targets of cybersecurity attacks and the largest buyer-base of cyber security products — New York City has both a need and an opportunity to fuel homegrown innovation and talent.

“We’ve convened a world-class roster of partners to help us execute on this essential plan, which will help protect the industries and people that make this city the economic powerhouse it is today,” Patchett said.

The city will invest $30 million in Cyber NYC, leveraging up to an additional $70 million from private funding. Those interested in applying for the Cyber Boot Camp can visit www.LaGuardia edu/CyberNYC to learn more.

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

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State Court of Appeals steps in on dispute between Christ the King, Brooklyn-Queens Diocese

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By Mark Hallum

TimesLedger Newspapers

The state Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled that the Brooklyn-Queens Diocese will have to pay more than $10,000 in legal fees to Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village after a years-long suit against the charter school for renting out space on the campus.

Christ the King, located at 68-02 Metropolitan Ave., was renting land turned over to it from the diocese under a 1976 contract that stated the parcel would always be used as a high school, or be turned back over to the church.

The diocese first took legal action against the Catholic charter school in 2013 when Queens County Supreme Court’s Marguerite Grays ruled in favor of the church in March 2017 that the school was in breach of its contract, court documents said.

This ruling has now been overturned by the state court of appeals and it will need to go back to Queens County Supreme Court, according to court documents.

“Throughout this long and really unnecessary ordeal, we’ve remained focused on providing the best possible educational options for young people and families in the community — and a great Catholic high school in particular,” said Serphin Maltese, the chairman of the Board for Christ the King. “It’s fitting that the Diocese’s payment to us for our most recent legal fees will help families pay for a Catholic education.”

The school rented the space to Christ the King Continuing Education, Inc., which used the space as a daycare center and to operate other education programs, according to court documents.

“Only two other Catholic high schools in the Diocese have ever leased unused space to charter schools and those leases were with the permission and consent of the Diocese. Charter schools are prohibited from any religious teaching or affiliation and, therefore, cannot be said to further the religious teachings or doctrines of a Roman Catholic high school,” a statement from the diocese said.

Christ the King is now saying the $10,400 they receive from the diocese will go toward funding scholarships, a press release from the school said.

Christ the King first opened in 1962 and closed a year later, only to open once again as a charter school separate from the diocese, while still providing a Catholic education.

The contract between the school and the diocese stated the parcel of land would be Christ the King’s “to have and to hold the same so long as [Christ the King] continues the operation of a Roman Catholic high school upon the premises… upon the cessatian of which all rights, title and interest herein conveyed shall revert to the [Diocese].”

The state Court of Appeals found the language in the contract ambiguous, as the high school still operated on the grounds and that other parcels of land under similar contracts with the Brooklyn Diocese were also being rented out, according to the court documents.

Christ the King argued that the rental of buildings owned by Catholic schools is now commonplace and used space rented in the Bishop Ford building in Brooklyn, a block away from the diocese’s headquarters, as an example of this.

The Brooklyn Diocese did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

Overhaul of JFK will bring new opportunities to southeast Queens: Cuomo

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By Bill Parry

TimesLedger Newspapers

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans last week for a $13 billion project that will transform JFK International Airport into a 21st century venue increasing capacity by at least 15 million passengers annually, he also vowed extensive community opportunities would be created, including an office to assist with contracting and job placement that will open in Jamaica this fall.

Two brand-new, international terminal complexes, containing a total of 4.1 billion square feet, will replace three existing terminals at the north and south of the airport. The plan also features expanded taxiway and gate capacity, state-of-the-art security, streamlines roadway access and centralized ground transportation options.

“While leaders in Washington talk about investing in infrastructure, we’re actually doing it at historic levels and the transformation of JFK Airport into a 21st century transportation hub will ensure New York remains the nation’s front door to the world,” Cuomo said. “This historic investment to modernize JFK Airport and the surrounding transportation network will not only ease travel through this major hub, but it will ensure JFK ranks as one of the finest airports in the world.”

The governor’s JFK Vision Plan initially, presented in January 2017, calls for the overhaul of eight disparate terminal sites into one unified JFK Airport by demolishing old terminals, utilizing vacant space, and modernizing on-airport infrastructure, while incorporating the latest in passenger amenities and technological innovations.

JFK Airport is one of the region’s most powerful economic engines, supporting nearly 300,000 jobs that pay $16.2 billion in wages annually while generating $45.7 billion in yearly sales. Together, the new terminals are estimated to create more than 9,600 direct jobs, including construction work and more than 15,000 total jobs over the life of the project.

“The redevelopment of JFK has the potential to provide many great opportunities, and I want to make sure that those opportunities are also reaped by those that live closest to the airport,” state Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park) said. “We look forward to the Community Benefits Agreement that solidifies the state’s commitment to the residents of southeast Queens, and we are delighted by the 30 percent goal for Minority and Women-Owned Enterprises contracting and look forward to helping the governor and the Port Authority reach that goal.”

The governor also announced the creation of the JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council, composed of elected officials, community boards, nonprofit organizations, civic organizations and clergy leaders. The council will be chaired by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), who will work with the Port Authority to expand community outreach efforts that are already underway.

“The $13 billion overhaul of John F. Kennedy (Airport) will be instrumental in ensuring continued economic growth and development across Queens,” Katz said. “A project of this magnitude will bring many opportunities to the community in southeast Queens, as well as encouraging additional investment from the state.”

Construction is expected to begin in 2020 with the first new gates scheduled to open in 2023. Substantial completion is expected in 2025.

“These upgrades will make a real difference in the lives of New Yorkers who frequent JFK, and for visitors whose first impression of the state is the moment they step off the plane,” state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said. “I have lived near the airport all my life and understand it’s importance to our local economy and job growth. I applaud Gov. Cuomo for staying true to his promise to improve our infrastructure and grow New York’s economy.”

The $13 billion project will be funded by $12 billion in private investment, according to Cuomo’s office.

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

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Source: Times Ledger

Southeast Queens businesses want GrubHub support

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By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

Earlier this year, eight business owners within and near downtown Jamaica had the opportunity attend a two-day technology boot camp sponsored by Goldman Sachs and Con Edison.

The goal was to improve their businesses thanks to a Progress Playbook and Greater Jamaica Development Corporation program called “ResTech: Mastering the ‘IT’ of HospITality!”

The first ResTech cohort had eight-hour classes Sept. 24 and Sept. 25 at The Harvest Room, located at 90-40 160th St. in Jamaica. They were managed by Brendez Wineglass, a project manager for Small Business Services.

Greater Jamaica Development Corporation is community development organization in Downtown Jamaica, while Progress Playbook is a provider of educational tools for entrepreneurs and Small Business Services is a city agency dedicated to helping local firms.

“Essentially I had the opportunity to take a grant from Goldman Sachs and Con Edison to support businesses in a growing Jamaica,” said Wineglass. “When I thought about a program I immediately thought about the restaurants that reside here and the ecosystem of small businesses and mom and pop shops that have been here for a number of years.”

With development soaring in Jamaica and 15 hotels expected to open in the area by 2019 bringing more than 4,800 bedroom units, there will be more foot traffic for the downtown region and local businesses, according to Wineglass. She wants to aid those business owners in being prepared for new clientele.

“To equip these small businesses to really take advantage of these changes, I thought that a program that used technology to really optimize their business and workflow would be really quintessential in their success moving forward,” said Wineglass.

The tech boot camp focused on point-of-sales, delivery applications and web presence on the first day, according to Wineglass. The second day was concentrated on customer service, work force development, best practices and de-escalation practices.

“One of the things that I would like to implement are the coupons,” said restaurateur Tyler Thomas of Rincon Salvadoreno, a Latin restaurant specializing in tamales and pupusas. “That will beneficial to our business… and bring more customers.”

Despite the boot camp lasting only two days, one aspect of it that Dawn Kelly — the owner of the healthy eating business The Nourish Spot Inc. in Jamaica — will take away is the networking opportunity from meeting other restaurateurs from the community.

“I learned that I’m not alone in terms of the challenges I face as a small business owner,” said Kelly. “Being in a room with other small business owners in southeast Queens I learned that food delivery is an issue for us.”

All the business owners who attended the meeting expressed wanting to use GrubHub, an online mobile food-ordering company for local diners, but the firm has little to no drivers in that section of Queens, according to Kelly.

“We are not able to service the biggest delivery application in the United States,” said Kelly. “Together we are going to gently encourage that company to do better on behalf of us, because it is hampering our ability to… make as much revenue as we possibly can because we are stymied by the fact that we don’t have access to their customer base.”

Kelly said the restaurateurs also intend to share and bounce ideas off of each other, and hope to do some economy of sale to save money by buying food items together.

“We have a vested interest in all of us doing well,” said Kelly.

Wineglass intends on doing a second boot camp in Spring 2019.

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

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Source: Times Ledger

Johnson, Constantinides discuss senior housing at Astoria town hall

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By Mark Hallum

TimesLedger Newspapers

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was in Astoria for a town hall with City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), where they discussed funding for senior housing through the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, issues in the Acropolis housing complex as well as improvements that could be made to NYC Ferry service to northwestern Queens.

About 300 residents filled the auditorium at PS 171 Oct. 4 to discuss these topics face-to-face with Johnson for his very first town hall.

Johnson said about $500 million had been set aside from the 2019 budget for the Department of Housing Preservation & Development to fund six senior affordable housing projects, with one slated for 31st Street and Broadway, much of which is currently a parking lot, but the city believes around 100 units could be built at the location.

A number of attendees were residents from the Acropolis complex who complained of maintenance issues at the co-op — located at 21-68 35th St. with about 618 units — which is on the verge of foreclosure and has not had a board meeting in a number of years.

“That’s the first order of business is to make sure that your homes, all 618 units, are protected. That’s the first order of business,” Constantinides said, adding he would be reaching out to the state Attorney General’s office. “The secondary part of this is, we have to do an investigation… This has been a frustrating turn of events where you have a management that is not listening to the residents, 618 families that live there.”

In 2015, residents at Acropolis went about six weeks without hot water or gas, gaining the attention of Public Advocate Letitia James.

One woman said the NYC Ferry service to Hallets Point has sped up her commute and released her dependency on unreliable subway service across the city. However, she did take issue with how safe the path to the ferry landing, claiming that cat-callers lurk in the area, which makes her fear for her safety.

“I don’t want to have to resort to taking the train again,” she said.

Johnson, who used the ferry service to get to Astoria, said he would work to address the problem through better lighting and said the 114th Precinct may be able to offer some assistance by patrolling the area.

Johnson boasted that about $25 million had been contributed to the Hallets Cove Peninsula from the 2019 budget, which includes investments of about $3.25 million in Astoria Library and $250,000 for better lighting and new security cameras around the community center at Astoria Houses.

Astoria Houses, a NYCHA complex, also received funds for solar panels, according to Johnson.

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

Forest Hills girls soccer defeats John Bowne

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By Robert Cole

TimesLedger Newspapers

Forest Hills took advantage of an opportunity to jump John Bowne in the standings with a 4-0 Columbus Day victory.

The win moved the Lady Rangers up to third place.

Junior Anastasia Abdurakhmanova scored three of Forest Hills’ four goals and the Lady Rangers combined her offensive firepower with a pressing defense that shut down John Bowne’s attack.

“I think we had a statement game today. We played well defensively, we did not give up any goals, the midfield controlled the game, and we scored four goals,” Forest Hills coach Robert Sprance said.

That defense was anchored by the outstanding play of junior goalie Julia Fields, who made four outstanding saves on point blank shots to help keep a clean sheet.

“Our goalie has been the best goalie in our division,” Sprance said. “Against Francis Lewis, she saved about 10 shots. She was so amazing that the players from Francis Lewis applauded her effort.”

On offense, Abdurakhmanova opened up the scoring at the six-minute mark, breaking away from the Bowne defenders to score with a shot from the top of the box to break the ice for the Lady Rangers. She closed the first half with the second of her three goals from the penalty spot after a handball inside the box was called against Bowne.

Abdurakhmanova completed her hat trick in the second minute of the second half to give Forest Hills a 3-0 lead.

Sprance said Abdurakhmanova’s success is a good sign of thinks to come for the rising junior.

“Last year she had a slump early in the season. She did not score any goals in the first five games, then she scored 14 goals in the last eight games,” Sprance said. “Already, this is her second hat trick this season. She has scored eight goals in the first five games. She’s amazing.”

Despite her star turn, Abdurakhmanova credited the entire team’s efforts.

“Today’s game was a really great experience. I scored a hat trick, but I could not do it without my team, and I am just really grateful to be here with my teammates and to have such an amazing game that I am really proud of,” Abdurakhmanova said.

Depending on the heroic saves from Fields in the first half, the Lady Rangers’ defense improved with a second-half performance that frustrated the Lady Wildcats, allowing just one shot on goal.

Ainara Higgins put the icing on the cake with the fourth and final goal of the game in the 14th minute.

With the victory, Forest Hills is on course in its attempt to continue rising up the ranks in its division, hoping to receive a higher seed, which would lead to possible home games in the postseason.

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Anti-immigration flyer in Sunnyside work of white supremacists: pol

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By Mark Hallum

TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) rallied alongside Make the Road NY and other community members Tuesday against a flyer allegedly posted by a white supremacist on the streets of Sunnyside.

Van Bramer said he was on his morning jog down Skillman Avenue Sunday when he saw the flyer created by Vanguard America pasted to a street light at 35th Street and posted a video on Twitter of himself removing it.

“It was clearly an ugly act of hate that was meant to intimidate all those in this community who are immigrants, it is also an act of vigilantism that is encouraging illegal acts of vigilantism and a felony, which is impersonating a federal agent,” Van Bramer said in a Tuesday news conference at 35th Avenue and Skillman Avenue. “We’ve learned that it is the act of a white supremacist organization in this country that took credit for creating the flyer… But the problem is, they don’t know who put it up because they’re not sure they have members in this community.”

According to Van Bramer, the flyers have appeared around college campuses in places such as Omaha, Neb., Washington State University and Penn State University.

“A notice to all citizens of the United Stated of America: It is your civic duty to report and all illegal aliens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement they have broken the law,” the flyer read. It also included the phone number for the Department of Homeland Security.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) encouraged the public to go out and vote to overturn negative rhetoric from the President Donald Trump toward immigrants and his administration’s policies.

“We are living in a country that is being torn apart at the seams, and president who is adding fuel to the fire every single day and making it worse,” Gianaris said, adding that ICE is still currently separating immigrant children from their families and keeping them in detention centers. “We live with the comfort that this country is stronger than this president, our values are this president and our democracy is stronger than this president, but it requires us to take action.”

Judith Zangwill, Executive Director for Sunnyside Community Services, joined the rally to support immigrants who form the basis of many of the clients who attend the center she helps to run at 43-31 39th St.

Van Bramer cautioned anyone who attempts to remove flyers, claiming white supremacist groups are prone to booby trap the paper with hidden razor blades, but still encourages the removal of such messages if they are seen.

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

Jackson Heights community remembers Ms. Colombia

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By Mark Hallum

TimesLedger Newspapers

The Jackson Heights community laughed and cried at a vigil as they remembered the colorful linchpin named Ms. Colombia or La Paisa, but known officially as Osvaldo Gomez.

NYPD officers found the body of Gomez, 64, in Jacob Riis Park the morning of Oct. 3. A popular LGBTQ figure in Queens and the city, Ms. Colombia was loved for her flamboyance and liveliness which she proudly displayed during special events, including the Queens Pride Parade, and could be encountered any day of the week if one was lucky.

The Oct. 5 vigil for Ms. Colombia was held at 78-02 37th Ave. in the neighborhood he called home for many years and was organized in part by City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights).

“As Osvaldo would say, ‘I am not gay, I am not lesbian, I am a human being from another planet,” Dromm said. “The most beautiful thing that Osvaldo did for all of us was to bring a sense of freedom to everybody, not just the LGBT community, but to everybody who met him… I first met Ms. Colombia when I started the Queens Pride Parade in 1993. I remember coming down 89th Street from a friend’s apartment and I was worried that nobody would show up. But of course, Ms. Colombia was there.”

Dromm went on to explain that Ms. Colombia did not prefer to go by the pronoun of either him or her because of gender fluidity.

News of Gomez’s demise was more than a shock to Jackson Heights resident, 32-year-old Peter Gonzalez. Gonzalez, who is autistic, went missing the day after the bearded Ms. Colombia was pronounced dead.

David Gonzalez, Peter’s twin brother, choked back tears as he spoke at the vigil about how Gomez was the only person in the neighborhood who treated his brother as a friend.

“He actually called my brother his friend and that change his life,” Gonzalez said at the vigil, offering $1,000 to anyone who could help him find Peter.

Good news came for the family Monday as Peter was found disoriented but in good spirits and was taken to Zucker Hillside Hospital in New Hyde Park.

“This is the happiest day of my life. The fact that he was found safe and sound is a blessing,” David Gonzalez posted on Facebook.

A hospital employee had recognized Peter from news reports.

“I’ve known Osvaldo nearly my entire life growing up here in the neighborhood, and there is no greater example of happiness and the sense of humor that exemplifies Colombians and we should be so proud to call him a neighbor,” said Jessica Ramos, a Democratic candidate who unseated state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) in September.

Police have determined there were no signs of foul play in the nature of Gomez’s death, but said the city Medical Examiner’s office is conducting an autopsy in order to determine a cause.

“Ms. Colombia brought life and character to Jackson Heights. This city is a little less colorful and a little less brilliant without her here,” City Councilman Francisco Moya said. “Ms. Colombia knew who she was and had the courage to be exactly that, every day. We should all be so brave. Rest in peace, Ms. Colombia, an institution of Jackson Heights, a treasure of Queens.”

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

Northern Boulevard to get major Vision Zero improvements

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By Mark Hallum

TimesLedger Newspapers

The city Department of Transportation announced Wednesday morning it would begin the first phase of sweeping changes to Northern Boulevard, also known as the “new boulevard of death” after redesigns were made to Queens Boulevard.

The agency will begin the public comment period in three design workshops in October to stem the number of deaths, already four in 2018 alone along the corridor from Queensboro Plaza to the Grand Central Parkway.

The improvements to the boulevard will be accompanied by stronger NYPD enforcement of traffic laws, according to NYPD Transportation Chief Thomas Chan.

“Since the de Blasio Administration launched Vision Zero in early 2014, we have made many roadway safety improvements along Northern Boulevard each year, but tragically, this work has not been enough,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “So today DOT and NYPD are standing together on Walk-to-School Day to announce a strong new enforcement effort. And we will kick off our first work shop next week with residents, elected officials, and other stakeholders to hear their ideas about how we can make Northern Boulevard safer.”

The Wednesday morning news conference on Northern Boulevard and Broadway in Woodside was attended by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who spoke of a long history of fatalities predating Vision Zero.

“It was five years ago that an 8-year-old boy was run over by a truck trying to cross to cross the street to go to school at PS 152 just a few blocks away,” Van Bramer said. “We also know that Northern Boulevard has been dangerous for a long time, it didn’t just start to happen… the Queens Boulevard redesign, which is one of the most unqualified success stories of Vision Zero where we have not had a death since that redesign was implemented. But that redesign had these community discussions, and by doing that here, hopefully we will have the very same success. Zero deaths in four to five years.”

Make Queens Safer co-founder Cristina Furlong is in support of DOT creating a “grand boulevard” with center islands on Northern providing community spaces, especially in Jackson Heights. She favors the city agency avoiding community board approval to expedite improvements.

“Eight schools and over 12,000 kids are zoned to cross that street, some of them middle school where they are going to school by themselves, and we would just like it to not look like a speed zone to the drivers,” Furlong said. “We painstakingly have to start from page one every time we go to a community board because they want to talk about parking and all these issues we hear over and over again, and what we’re hoping is that DOT and the mayor are going to come up with some kind of flow-through plan so we’re not getting all the push-back and delays from community boards.”

Furlong pointed to the improvements made to Queens Boulevard where DOT went through each community board along its span and that the proven methods employed by the Vision Zero initiative should be a “standard treatment.”

State Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst) also voiced support for a Vision Zero project to improve conditions along the corridor which spans the length of Queens and well into Nassau County.

“The death toll along Northern Boulevard is simply unacceptable,” City Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Corona) said. “With ten deaths along the 11-mile stretch since 2017, it’s abundantly clear that this thoroughfare is indeed the ‘new boulevard of death.’ Thank you to the Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and the mayor’s office for taking this crisis seriously and implementing a similar process used to transform Queens Boulevard, which has recorded three straight years without a fatal pedestrian collision and saw a 35 percent reduction in injuries in 2017.”

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