Fallen NYPD officer honored with street renaming

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By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

The 103rd Precinct came out in full force Monday for the official renaming of 91st Avenue to Police Officer Eddie Byrne Avenue, on the 30th anniversary of the young patrolman’s murder.

In attendance was Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and the Byrne family, including older brother Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters Larry Byrne.

The dedication ceremony was outside the precinct, located at 168-02 91st Ave. in Jamaica, and kicked off with the marching of the police color guard and the “Star-Spangled Banner” sung by Officer Makiah Brown.

Later the guests remarked on the officer’s bravery before the unveiled the blue sign, which had his name on it along with the NYPD police shield logo.

Days after his 22nd birthday, Byrne was assassinated at the intersection of 107th Avenue and Inwood Street in South Jamaica while in his patrol car trying to protect a Guyanese-American who had reported criminal activity in his neighborhood.

“In 1988, the 103rd was one of the busiest precincts in the city,” said Byrne’s older brother. “The residents and business owners here were terrorized by violence and gangs who tried to control whole parts of the neighborhood.”

Despite how crime-ridden the area surrounding the 103rd Precinct was, Byrne chose to work in that department after finishing his time in the police academy in 1987.

Byrne was shot five times after notorious drug kingpin Howard “Pappy” Mason ordered a hit on a police officer as a way to send a message to the NYPD.

“He did not die in vain,” O’Neill said. “That was the beginning. That was a wake up call for the whole city.”

Mason’s actions instead resulted in the nation rallying against the crime wave of the 1970s and ‘80s and the formation of the Tactical Narcotics Task Force a month later.

QUEENS THEATRE

He is also serving life in prison at a maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado.

“I want everyone to remember that in that painful time, and it was such a difficult (time) in the city’s history, Eddie was there to protect someone who was doing what we would want them to do, who came forward to testify against a criminal gang,” de Blasio said.

As of 2017, crime in Queens and throughout the city has been at the lowest point since the 1950s, the mayor told a press conference in November.

“Because of the tens of thousands that came after him, this is one of the safest neighborhoods in the city,” said Larry Byrne. “This is a great community of hardworking people who support Eddie and their police officers.”

James remembered Byrne’s death because her mother lived two blocks from the killing on Inwood Street and was one of the many community members who went to the site of the assassination and prayed for his family.

“Now that she and Eddie have transitioned,” James said, “they are praying that each and every officer returns home safely.”

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

Police arrest suspect with ties to church vandalism in Oakland Gardens

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By Mark Hallum

TimesLedger Newspapers

A vandal who targeted the American Martyrs Parish in Oakland Gardens was slapped with hate crime charges after he was apprehended by police.

Religious statues in front of the house of worship — located at 79-43 Bell Blvd. — were shattered and destroyed, two of which had a combined value of $2,000, according to police.

The suspect, Lee Sung, 26, of Bellerose, was arrested shortly following the Feb. 23 incident and charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief for allegedly breaking the Blessed Mother, valued at $1,500, and the Sacred Heart, at around $500, statues, according to NYPD.

Other charges facing Sung are criminal contempt, aggravated harassment and an additional count of aggravated harassment in the second degree, cops said.

The aggravated harassment and criminal mischief both carry hate crime status, according to a police spokeswoman.

Father Frank Schwarz of American Martyrs expressed confusion as to why Sung would target the parish, which falls under the purview of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

“I just sincerely hope he tries to get the help he needs, I don’t know why he would do this, hope that he really gets the help he needs and realizes that God still loves him,” Schwarz said. “I just would like to know what he has against the church, what he has against this church, in particular. I don’t know if he has done this somewhere else, but I don’t know why he would target this facility. We have never done anything to him.”

Sung was allegedly seen on surveillance footage dragging the Blessed Mother statue about 25 feet before it was smashed, the diocese said.

The Sacred Heart was flung down a flight of stairs leading to the rectory.

Security cameras captured a man walking back and forth across the frame mostly in the shadows, while another camera facing the rectory door only depicts the Sacred Heart falling to the ground at the foot of the steps.

Recent months have seen American Martyrs the victim of other vandals. In December, the fingers from the statue of St. Isaac Jogues in the prayer garden were found bent backwards. In October, the bingo sign was found with damage.

Most Holy Redeemer

Another man was arrested in August after security footage capture a vandal throwing a brick through the window of the church doors.

It is not clear if the individual incidents are related.

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

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Hundreds flock to Manhattan to remember George Kaufman

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By Bill Parry

TimesLedger Newspapers

Hundreds packed Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan Monday to pay their respects to George Kaufman, the man who took a dilapidated old film studio in Astoria, and turned it into a powerhouse of film and television production and revitalized an entire neighborhood in the process. Kaufman died of heart failure at his home in Palm Beach, Fla., Feb. 20. He was 89.

Kaufman was a Manhattan real estate developer when he acquired the abandoned and vandalized former home of Paramount Pictures in the 1920s before it joined the rest of the motion picture industry in Hollywood. The U.S. Army used the site as a production facility before turning over the 5.5-acre site to the city. They allowed it to decay during the 1970s, which badly affected the neighborhood surrounding the complex. But after its revival, the Kaufman Astoria Studios became an anchor in a growing, vibrant neighborhood that has been proclaimed the Kaufman Arts District, the first arts district in Queens.

“George was so much more than a real estate developer,” Kaufman Astoria Studios President and CEO Hal Rosenbluth said. “He understood deep in his bones the importance of investing in New York’s communities, because they are the very foundation of the city’s greatness. He was a visionary who saw the promise of film and television production work in New York long before it became an integral part of the city’s economy.

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The Kaufman Arts District, which spans a 24-block area, is home to seven institutions including the Museum of the Moving Image, the Queens Council on the Arts and the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. The district is bounded between 31st and Steinway streets and 34th and 37th avenues, an area that was neglected and rundown until Kaufman bought the underused property at 34-12 36th St., which is now one of the largest film and television production studios on the East Coast.

Angelo Rizzo, the maintenance foreman for Kaufman Astoria Studios, described growing up in the area at a time when the studio was vacant and scary until “Mr. K” came along. Pete Romano, the vice president of operations at Kaufman Astoria Studios, lived a block away as a child and marveled at the changes to the neighborhood when it was designated the Kaufman Arts District in 2014.

“My folks wouldn’t let me cross 35th Avenue,” he said. “It was devastation, nothing but abandoned buildings. Now look at it.”

Alan and Stuart Suna, the principals of nearby Silvercup Studios, paid tribute to their friend and competitor.

“George Kaufman had an unprecedented vision for Queens as a center for the film and television industry, but the realities that followed exceeded everyone’s expectations,” they said in a statement. “He was a good friend and colleague in business, working with us collegially for 35 years to improve the film and television industry through governmental outreach and enhancing and supporting the local community. He will be missed, but his legacy, including the Kaufman Arts District he founded, will live on for a very long time.”

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who helped create the Kaufman Arts District in the same neighborhood where he grew up, attended Monday’s funeral service.

“George Kaufman saw something that no one else could see and that’s the very definition of a visionary,” he said. “He saw a future where it wasn’t just the revival of a film and television studio but the revival of an entire section of Astoria. That’s what he did.”

Kaufman is survived by his wife, Mariana, and a daughter, Cynthia.

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

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What would an immigration deal look like?

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By Prem Calvin Prashad

TimesLedger Newspapers

After the Trump administration decided to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and kicked the onus on a fix to Congress, the program beneficiaries, better known as “Dreamers,” have lived in limbo, facing deportation to countries they last set foot in as children.

The bipartisan consensus is that deporting “Dreamers” would be a humanitarian and policy failure and an embarrassment to the country. Yet a solution seems farther than ever. The events of the past few months have made it clear that Congress must act on its own and if necessary, bypass the White House.

The status of DACA has wound through the courts for months, eventually making it to the Supreme Court. On Monday, the court declined a request from the Trump administration to authorize the immediate termination of the program (which would open recipients to deportation).

Terrace

This is particularly concerning as DACA program members have volunteered their information to the government and passed a rigorous application process. Reneging on the promises made by the program would greatly undermine the credibility of the government.

The administration is required by court order to maintain elements of the program, including a stay of deportation and the right to continue to renew their status.

Congress, meanwhile, has failed to reach a reasonable consensus on immigration reform. After a brief government shutdown over the issue, subsequent proposals have attempted to trade protections for Dreamers with various elements of the president’s nationalist agenda, including funding for the border wall and changing the immigration rules to ensure that immigrants are not allowed to sponsor family members.

Of course, both proposals struck Democrats (and many moderate Republicans) as petty and in bad faith. Family reunification (or family ties) has always played a strong role in immigration, and most Americans can relate their family history to a chain of relatives of neighbors that settled in the United States.

A solution is not likely while the administration is determined to use young, undocumented people as bargaining chips in order to push immigration policy to the far right of American values.

The wall is an expensive and unnecessary barrier that is unlikely to impact the number of undocumented immigrants, many of whom now enter legally and overstay visas.

The major takeaway, however, should be that the administration is not interested in a solution. They have consistently delayed, derailed and undermined bipartisan solutions that did not sufficiently conform to the president’s agenda.

With a stated preference for “European” immigrants, it’s clear that for the Trump administration, any level of immigration is undesirable.

The time has come for Congress to bypass the president and create a deal of their own – one that can pass and be sustained with 60 votes.

The deal, at a minimum level, needs to solve the issue of “Dreamers” for good, with a path to citizenship. The TPS debacle, where displaced people who have lived in the United States for two decades now face deportation, demonstrates the peril of temporary solutions that extend indefinitely, making the consequences for deportation increasingly severe with each passing year.

This is what is happening now while DACA bounces from court to court.

The “diversity lottery,” a random visa lottery that increases European immigration, is a favorite target of conservatives, who largely don’t realize it benefits the administration’s favorite immigrants.

It can be done away with. Professional visas, used by tech and engineering companies for recruiting can be reviewed – the enhanced interconnectivity of the world has made international teams more viable.

Though reducing these visas makes this country less able to compete for talent and fill in professional gaps in the workforce, it could be a concession made to protect immigrants already living in the United States.

The only way the bipartisan consensus on immigration can succeed is if it is negotiated in good faith. Ending “family reunification” punishes legal immigrants and does so for no discernible reason aside from bias against immigrants.

The administration’s proposals are designed to punish legal and illegal immigrants alike. They should be ignored. Revamping the immigration system without the support of the Executive Office is unprecedented – but it is also not impossible.

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Far Rock community rallies to protest school closings

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By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

Parents, teachers, community leaders and youth were at the footsteps of Tweed Courthouse in City Hall last week protesting the closure and conjoiining of 19 schools in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

Nine of the schools shutting down are renewal schools, including two Far Rockaway schools in District 27: the Brian Piccolo Middle School (MS 53) and the Robert Vernam School (PS/MS 42), according to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña in December.

Piccolo is located at 10-45 Naemoke St. in Far Rockaway and Vernam is at 488 Beach 66th St. in Arverne.

The dozens of protesters at Tweed on Tuesday, Feb. 21, called the school closures a violation of their civil rights and pointed out that the institutions being closed were mostly made up of black and Latino students.

“Chancellor Carmen Fariña acts without regard to the civil right victories of the last half century, without regard for the educational well-being of the community,” said Dr. Galloway, a fifth-grade teacher at PS 42.

Parents and teachers were frustrated with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who they quoted as once saying “closing a school is a panacea” when he was campaigning for his first bid as mayor.

The mayor, however, also said that closing a school was a “last resort,” according to chalkbeat.org, an education news site.

De Blasio initially invested $150 million into the renewal school program to help 94 struggling institutions transform, but the agenda has seen mixed results.

Despite the two Far Rockaway schools facing closure, four other institutions in Queens had steady enough gains to be placed in the Rise School Program, according to the DOE. These schools along with 17 others met 67 percent of their benchmark in improving test scores, attendance, and college readiness, and will receive fewer renewal resources going forward.

The Pan American International High School (Elmhurst), Ocean School Elementary (Far Rockaway), Richard S. Grossley Junior High School (Jamaica) and John Adams High School (Ozone Park) are the four Rise Schools in the borough, according to the DOE.

“The decision to close a school is made in close consultation with the superintendent and is based on multiple measures,” said Michael Aciman, a spokesman of the DOE. “These proposals were issued with the best interests of the students in mind and we believe students will be better served at a higher-performing school next year.”

The educators who were protesting, however, felt that the schools under the renewal program that are closing were not given enough time to demonstrate improvement.

Earlier this month representatives of PS/MS 42 said they reached five out of the seven target goals for improvement.

The school managed to incrementally increase its math and ELA scores by 10.5 points, received an 86-percent score for rigorous instruction, and clocked a 97.3-percent teacher-attendance score from the DOE, according to a Feb. 13 press release, which noted the Far Rockaway school’s effective leadership and collaborative teachers.

According to teachers at the protest, education reform initiatives take around five years to show any marked change.

In a Feb. 15 letter, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz stood with PS/MS 42 in its opposition and urged Fariña to withdraw the proposal to close the school, which she said made “great strides to improve as part of the Renewal Schools Program.”

A New York City Panel for Educational Panel was scheduled to vote on the closure this week.

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

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St. Francis Prep eliminated after playoff loss to Scanlan

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By Robert Cole

TimesLedger Newspapers

St. Francis Prep’s first-year coach Jim Lynch, hoped that his young guards would be able to stand up to the constant defensive pressure of Scanlan. But the Crusaders’ constant pressure eventually took its toll on the Terriers, resulting in a 74-60 Scanlan victory in the CHSAA Intersectional first-round playoff game.

“Today was a tough loss,” Lynch said after the game. “I thought Scanlan did a terrific job in getting to the glass, and their full-court press bothered us. We did not handle it the way we wanted to, so we did not get the easy shots we wanted.”

The Terriers got off to a quick start in the first quarter, taking a 7-0 lead. But Prep’s early foul trouble gave Scanlan an opportunity to get back into the game.The Terriers were able to maintain their lead throughout the quarter behind Brandon Tatis, who scored eight first quarter points, andAramis Santiago, who added four points.

Prep took a 14-9 lead into the second quarter, when a tough Scanlon defense took advantage of the mounting fouls on the Terriers to cut its deficit to 20-18 with 4:40 remaining in the half. Scanlan tied the contest at 24-24 with 2:28 on a three-pointer from Tyliek Brown, which sparked a 7-0 run that gave the Crusaders a 31-27 lead going into halftime.

The Crusaders continued to bring the pressure on defense and hit the offensive glass hard, scoring eight consecutive points and extending their lead to 35-27. St. Francis played even with the Crusaders for the remainder of the third quarter, getting balanced scoring from its starters, but with fouls continuing to mount, the Terriers could not apply the defensive pressure needed to slow down Scanlan, who took a 52-46 lead into the final period.

“You have to adjust to the way the game is being called,” said Lynch of his team’s foul trouble. “The game was being called tight, and our kids didn’t adjust. We made silly fouls that let them get in the bonus.”

Scanlan maintained its defensive pressure on the Terriers in the final period and cruised to a 74-60 victory. With the loss, St. Francis Prep was eliminated from this year’s championship tournament, ending their season with a 10-15 record.

Lynch said his team went through some ups and downs throughout the season, including the death of long-time coach Tim Leary following a bout with cancer.

“The last couple of weeks for our team has been difficult,” Lynch said. “I am impressed with the way they have reacted, they show up every day and gave us their best effort. I loved this group of kids, and I wouldn’t ask for anything different in terms of a team to coach my first time out.”

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Give some love to community theater

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By Ronald B. Hellman

TimesLedger Newspapers

Another awards season is winding down, capped off by Oscar’s big night this Sunday.

In case you’re counting, there have already been ceremonies for the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice, the Producers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, the Grammys, BAFTA (the British Academy), and coming up on Saturday, the Independent Spirit Awards.

Come springtime, theater gets its chance with the Obies and the Tonys. How valid these awards are is open to question, perhaps not more than the hill of beans Bogart evoked in “Casablanca,” but they do generate publicity and sell tickets.

Meanwhile, our local theater groups struggle to survive — basically operating in the dark, if not in the red. This column, approaching its 11th anniversary, is dedicated to shining light on these valuable but under-appreciated companies. We welcome their input and news of their activities.

Theatre By The Bay in Bayside, rejuvenated under its new Artistic Director Cathy Chimenti, celebrates its 15th anniversary with the romantic comedy “Beau Jest” for five performances starting on Sunday. There are just two more chances to see The Parkside Players’ (Forest Hills) production of the Agatha Christie comedy-thriller “Spider’s Web,” on Friday and Saturday — but if you want to audition for its next one, the farce “Boeing, Boeing,” try your luck on March 11 or 14.

One of the more prolific groups, the Rockaway Theatre Company (Fort Tilden), offers the hit comedy “Lovers & Other Strangers” for three weekends in May, so plan on making your way to the beach. Royal Star Theatre (Jamaica Estates) has the musical comedy “The Wedding Singer” coming up April 27–May 5, while Maggie’s Little Theater in Middle Village will be holding auditions for the musical “Man of La Mancha” on March 7, 9 and 11.

Speaking of musicals, for you theatre buffs, it was 75 years ago that “Oklahoma!” opened on Broadway, for the first time integrating book, songs and dance, and kicking off the golden age of great musical theater.

Dramatic play readings are offered by the Lantern Theatre, mainly in libraries on Long Island, but they are looking for organizations in Queens that can afford to pay for some entertainment. These plays are fully acted and staged, but the actors keep book in hand.

Taking over from Deb’s Web, now that Debbie Starker has retired her weekly newsletter after 17 years, is the Long Island Community Theatre Cooperative. LICTC was founded last September by Kate Lenzo, providing a central site for audition notices and show announcements. Another resource continues to be SpotlightOnStage, headed by Charlene Greenberg. For those of you who would like some fun on stage, regardless of experience or training, Jeanna de Waal whom I profiled last year, is still running Broadway Weekends, a musical theater camp for adults. Her next event, led by working Broadway professionals, takes place over Mother’s Day weekend, May 12 and 13 and this time includes teenagers. More info: www.broadwayweekends.com.

Again, if you or your theater group are looking for some coverage in The Play’s The Thing, drop me a line. I look forward to hearing from you.

Contact Ron Hellman at rbhofc@gmail.com.

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Triplets born early brought home after long stay at Jamaica clinic

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By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

Manjinder Singh went to the hospital with his partner Navdeep Kaur so that they could prepare for a scheduled Caesarian on Jan. 16, for a trio of girls, but the triplets decided to come a day early, according to hospital spokesman Cleon Edwards.

The triplets were born in Jamaica on Jan. 15 and were recently released from the NYC Health + Hospitals clinic located at 82-68 164th St. earlier this month.

Despite the girls coming a day early the hospital Obstetrics and Neonatology teams were ready with additional staff and specialized equipment for an emergency C-section for Kaur.

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The first out of the gate at 9:26 p.m. weighing 3 pounds and 11 ounces was Anayapreet Kaur.

The second baby born was Hargunpreet Kaur at 9:27 p.m. She weighed 3 pounds and 6 ounces.

Parulpreet Kaur was born at 9:28 p.m. and weighed the most at 4 pounds.

The babies were born within 34 weeks, which is considered full term for triplets, and they were admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for mild respiratory distress.

Parulpeet was discharged from the hospital on Jan. 31 and Anayapreet and Hargunpreet were discharged on Feb. 8, and all three are now able to breathe room air on their own now.

Obstetrics physicians Tatiana Viloria, Anubha Arora, and Amal Aldurra delivered the girls.

Labor and delivery nurses Sherlin Abraham, Ramona McKenzie, as well as Neonatology team members Jacob Go, Vivian Lata and Mary Grace Peralta also helped with the baby girls.

In 2014, NYC Health + Hospitals was the first hospital in Queens to receive the World Health Organization’s “Baby Friendly” designation after an intensive three-year collaborative process to support new mothers in breastfeeding newborns.

“NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens is proud to be a community hospital where young families can count on having a healthy start in life,” said hospital CEO Chris Roker. “Our birthing center provides a warm and vibrant atmosphere where new moms can look forward to a promising experience for themselves and their babies under the expert guidance of our Labor & Delivery team of professionals.”

The parents are happy at home in Valley Stream with the new additions to their family.

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

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Addabbo pushes new bill to help Simanowitz family

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By Gina Martinez

TimesLedger Newspapers

Months after the passing of former state Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing) his State Senate and Assembly colleagues are looking to pass a bill to provide the remainder of his salary to his family.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Ozone Park) joined Senate colleagues to get a new bill passed that will provide Simanowitz’ widow, Jennifer, with the remainder of his annual legislative salary.

The 45-year-old Assemblyman died in September 2017 after battling an unknown illness. Simanowitz represented the 27th District, which covers College Point, Whitestone, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Electchester, Pomonok, Briarwood, Kew Gardens, and Richmond Hill since 2011. Prior to being elected to the state office, he served as the chief of staff to Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn for 15 years until her retirement.

He left behind his wife Jennifer, four children, his parents and his brothers Barry and Alan.

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Addabbo, a close friend of the Assemblyman, said this bill will help aid his family following his unexpected death.

“We were all deeply saddened when Assemblyman Simanowitz died and our hearts went out to his wife and family,” he said. “I considered Mike a friend and a legislative colleague. I am glad the Legislature is taking action to lend a helping hand to Jennifer and their children. While nothing will ever bring back their beloved husband and father, this legislation will at least provide Mike’s family with some financial support.”

Similar bills have been approved in the past for families of legislators who have died while serving in office. The bill has also been approved by the state Assembly and will be sent to Gov.Andrew Cuomo for his consideration.

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

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City’s plan for massive project on LIC waterfront draws rebuke from Van Bramer

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By Bill Parry

TimesLedger Newspapers

The city will have to make some changes to its plan to allow a developer to build a massive 1,000 unit residential complex on public land along the Long Island City waterfront, according to City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).

The project, in which TF Cornerstone would build two towers — one 64 stories tall and the other with 50 stories — would require a zoning change that would need Van Bramer’s blessing during the public approval process as the representative of the district.

“I was never for this project, but I was waiting to see what the final plan looks like,” Van Bramer said.

While the plan has yet to be certified or begin the ULUURP process, Van Bramer is not liking what he has seen.

“The amount of greenspace they’re offering is very small and the amount of affordable housing is insulting,” he said. “You can’t allow a developer the opportunity to build on city-owned land and only offer 25 percent affordable. That is insulting. That’s wildly unacceptable to me and the community.”

Theatre By The Bay NY

State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Long Island City) was an early opponent of the project, firing off a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio less than a month after it was presented in August saying the proposed buildings “are too massive for this area.” Nolan suggested instead that the land be used for much-needed parkland while preserving a portion as a wetland to help in flood mitigation.

“I urge Mayor de Blasio and the NYC Economic Development Corporation to take a step back, put the RFP on hold and listen to the community, civic organizations, and residents on what they believe this parcel of land should be,” Nolan said. “This is public property and any plans, now more than ever, should include ideas and alternatives that come directly from local residents.”

The 1.5 million-square-foot mixed use project on the north side of Anable Basin, on 44th Drive near Vernon Boulevard would include a 600-seat school, 100,000 square feet of light industrial space, 400,000 square feet of commercial office space and 25,000 square feet of art space.

“We’re proud that this will deliver hundreds of affordable homes, new industrial and commercial space, workforce training programs, good jobs, a new 600-seat school and more than an acre of open space for Long Island City,” the city’s Economic Development Corporation spokeswoman, Shavone Williams, said. “We look forward to continued discussions with community members in the months ahead, as we look for ideas on how to make this great project even better.”

To garner Van Bramer’s support in what he calls the largest rezoning in his eight years in the City Council, he will need to see changes to the plan.

“We have a crisis with not enough schools and I don’t want to contribute to this overdevelopment in Long Island City without the infrastructure that is needed for the people who are already here,” Van Bramer said. “Schools, a community center, parkland, transportation, this is all part of infrastructure and good city planning would have called for this long ago and instead we’re playing catchup. We’ve got to demand more from Mayor de Blasio, the EDC and from the Office of City Planning. We’ve got to demand more from all of them.”

That is why Van Bramer will join Nolan in support of a March 3 rally organized by the LIC Coalition, a grassroots civic organization that is dissatisfied with the way open space has been used as the unprecedented development of the neighborhood continues unabated.

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

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