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Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office
Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted a town hall in Long Island City on April 27 where he announced that he would fund several projects in the area through his recently released budget.

The town hall took place at Queens Vocational & Technical High School where residents asked the mayor questions about topics ranging from street improvements, affordable housing and lack of green space in the neighborhood.

Helen Ho, director of external affairs at LaGuardia Community College, argued that the area around the college was unsafe for students and employees. She brought up 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak, who was fatally hit by an out-of-control minivan in 2013.

“What we need are safe streets for the students and workers of Long Island City,” Ho said. “Our intersection [at] Van Dam Street, Thomson Avenue [and] Queens Boulevard is extremely dangerous for pedestrians and we need funding for the entire redesign of the intersection.”

The Department of Transportation conducted a study in the area and made several improvements including closing the slip ramp on Thomson and Skillman avenues making it illegal for vehicles to make left turns from Thomson onto Skillman Avenue.

“We know there’s a real problem around LaGuardia College,” he said. “We know that more has to be done. We knew this would be an important topic … We’re going to take the plans we have and move them up and I am pleased to tell you we will commit $17 million in city capital funds to create those safety measures on Thomson Avenue to protect the students of LaGuardia College and the surrounding community.”

He also announced that the Long Island City South ferry stop will be integrated into the new NYC Ferry service and begin trips on May 1 and the Long Island City North ferry stop will begin service in August.

An employee at Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement asked about the relocation of the Department of Sanitation Garage at 34-28 21st St. The building, which has been used by the city since the 1930s, was described by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer at the town hall as “an issue of environmental justice that has plagued the Ravenswood community for decades and decades and decades.”

The building is dilapidated and sanitation trucks have idled around the area, causing additional noise and excess garbage to pile up.

“Not only [have] a lot of the members of the community obviously raised this very powerfully, the councilman has raised this during the last snowstorm,” de Blasio said.

The executive budget includes $130 million for a new sanitation garage to replace the facility and the mayor added that the trucks now idling in the street will be moved out by fall.

Kathy Dawkins, spokesperson for DSNY, said the agency is looking for suitable replacements that span 3 to 4 acres within Community Board 1 to relocate the facility.

“In the interim, we are seeking to re-locate some vehicles and personnel to a nearby annex facility on a privately owned lot to alleviate some of the on-street vehicle parking at the existing facility,” she said.

The town hall lasted about three hours, and the mayor discussed other concerns such as housing, education, commercial real estate, green space and more.

Watch the entire town hall below:

 

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