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Politics

Constantinides Outlines a Sustainable Future for Western Queens

ASTORIA – New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides laid out a forward-thinking plan to enhance the long-term resiliency and sustainability of New York City in his 2021 virtual State of the District Address on January 13. In his speech, he called for Shore Boulevard to be permanently opened to pedestrians, for all fossil fuel infrastructure in western Queens to be phased out in favor of a “Renewable Row,” and for the Council to pass a slate of bills to enhance our city’s resiliency.

“I’m proud of everything that I’ve been able to accomplish as your Council Member during my term,” said Council Member Constantinides. “We’ve been able to expand our hospital, provide millions in funding for our parks, and get every District 22 student out of trailers. Tonight, I’ve laid out the steps that our district, and our city, must do more to be truly green and sustainable, including changing the dominant car culture and turning western Queens into a hub for renewable energy. I want to commit us to a climate-centered New York City that will endure even after I have left office.”

Council Member Constantinides called for the section of Shore Boulevard within Astoria Park to be permanently restricted to non-vehicular uses, and for the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and the community to envision how to restrict non-vehicular traffic on Shore boulevard between Ditmars Boulevard and 20th Avenue. According to NYC Open Data, every intersection along this route has had at least one crash over the last decade. The Council Member also announced a partnership with the DOT to formulate a Community Advisory Board that will create a plan to redesign 21st Street. Finally, he called on DOT to do more to protect bike lanes and to reopen the Queensboro Bridge Southern Roadway to bicyclists, as the COVID pandemic has further demonstrated the need  to give New Yorkers safe alternative forms of transportation.

The Council Member was also proud to confirm that HANAC will build a new 100% affordable senior housing development at 31-07 31st Street. This building, financed through the Senior Affordable Rental Apartments (SARA) Program, will provide housing for seniors with incomes up to $45,000 for a family of two. 30% of the units will also be set aside for formerly homeless seniors, and the building will feature social services and a community center. With this project, Council Member Constantinides has secured commitments to build over 300 units of affordable housing for vulnerable New Yorkers.

Council Member Constantinides also announced that he will be combining three pending bills into the New York City Rise to Resiliency Act. The Act would consist of Intro. 1620, which would require the city to create a comprehensive, five-borough plan to protect the entire city from climate change, and Intro. 2149, which establishes climate resiliency indicators. At the Council hearings on these bills, numerous organizations and community groups testified to their importance, stressing that many neighborhoods are left unprotected by current city plans, and that a lack of climate data further impedes community-driven resiliency work. Int. 2092, which codifies the city’s Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines, will be heard in the Council’s Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts on Monday, January 25. 

The Council Member also highlighted some of the major victories that District 22 has seen since 2014, such as park improvements, affordable housing, and education. Those include: 

  • A historic $30 million investment in Astoria Park thanks to the mayor’s Anchor Park program. With this funding, the track and field was refurbished, and in the next phases Charybdis Playground will be renovated and erosion control measures will be implemented.
  • Ensuring that no child in District 22 has to attend school in a “Temporary Classroom Unit” (commonly referred to as trailers) by building new expansions at P.S. 70, P.S. 151, P.S. 2, and P.S. 85.
  • Securing over $10 million for the expansion of Mount Sinai Queens and upgrades including new PET scan equipment, MRI equipment, and a state-of-the-art stroke center. 
  • Investing over $20 million in parks, playgrounds, and community spaces west of 21st Street. This historically-redlined section of the neighborhood, with the Astoria Houses NYCHA campus at its heart, had been neglected for decades by city officials.
  • Funding construction of new hydroponic science labs in 15 Council District 22 schools, and solar panels in four local schools, which will give tomorrow’s leaders hands-on lessons in biology, nutrition, agriculture, and technology. 

Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council's 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the Chair of the City Council's Environmental Protection Committee and sits on the Resiliency, Sanitation, and Technology Committees. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.

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