ASTORIA – New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, at right, and Council Member Costa Constantinides joined community leaders and concerned citizens for the Council District 22 Town Hall meeting at P.S. 171 Peter G. Van Alst in Astoria. Both Johnson and Constantinides spoke about the achievements in the district and what still needs to be done. Residents also had the opportunity to voice their concerns and ask questions during the Town Hall.
Among those present at the event were Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik who represents Council District 23 in Eastern Queens and is also the Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation which has jurisdiction over New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, Community Board 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris, Marie Torniali- Executive Director of the Central Astoria LDC and Community Board 1 Chairperson, President of the Astoria Houses Residents Association Claudia Coger, Old Astoria Neighborhood Association President Richard Khuzami, and representatives from the office of New York State Assemblymember Aravella Simotas as well as representatives from the 114th Precinct.
Principal Lisa Stone gave the welcoming remarks, thanking all those present for attending and specifically Council Member Constantinides for all his efforts to help revitalize the schools in the district. Among the improvements at P.S. 171, laptops, safe arrival with the new speedbump on the block, and solar panels soon to be installed on the roof. Principal Stone then introduced a 5th grader who led the Pledge of Allegiance to start off the Town Hall meeting.
The schools in the district have also received upgrades in technology each year since 2014 and the City Council has made a multi-million dollar investment in solar panels for the schools. Trailers have been removed from P.S. 151 and P.S. 2 so that students can learn in a temperature controlled environment and not out in the cold. Originally built as temporary units to house students due to overcrowding, classroom trailers became a serious challenge to educators and students. They frequently lacked adequate lighting, ventilation, heat, and bathrooms. Many trailers were built to be in service for a decade but most continued to be used for years after their original expiration date. The placement of trailers also took up space in schoolyards leaving little room for outdoor physical activity.
The historic $30 million investment in Astoria Park that will bring an upgraded track & field area, renovated pathways, and a new Charybdis Playground, was one of the highlights of the year for District 22 and as Constantinides noted, all 22 parks and playgrounds in the district will see an investment by the year 2022. The drainage in Astoria Park is already being repaired so that a small amount of rain will no longer flood the fields and walkways in the park.
Concerned citizens filled the auditorium for the Council District 22 Town Hall at P.S. 171 Peter G. Van Alst in Astoria. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
Placards displayed in the auditorium highlighted the achievements in District 22. Photo by Eleni Sakellis