By Bill Parry
Hoop dreams will make a comeback at the Woodside Houses after City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and community members broke ground last Friday on a $500,000 renovation of its basketball court and play area. After being poorly maintained for many years, the courts at 31-5 49th St. are deteriorated and uneven, posing safety hazards to the young people who play basketball and other sports.
“The residents of Woodside Houses deserve a model basketball court and play area, not one that has fallen into disrepair,” Van Bramer said. The NYCHA development hosts the annual Woodside Classic, a youth basketball tournament that draws hundreds of sports fans from around the city to the neighborhood.
“We’ve been working to get repairs for this basketball court since 1985,” Woodside Tenants Association President Annie Cotton-Morris said. “This is more than just a basketball court, it’s an important axis and gathering place for our community. I’m glad that we can finally break ground on improvements that will make this court up to date.”
The groundbreaking is one of many efforts undertaken by Van Bramer to improve conditions, especially outdoor spaces, for NYCHA residents in his district. Van Bramer worked with the de Blasio administration to secure $87 million in funds for roof replacements at the Queensbridge Houses and the nearly $6 million to restore the Queensbridge Seawall and park house.
Meanwhile, Van Bramer unveiled 19 community projects that have been proposed as part of the 26th District’s second year of Participatory Budgeting. Over $1 million will be allocated for the most popular projects.
Van Bramer was slated to host a Project Expo Monday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Sunnyside Community Services center at 43-31 39th St. The expo will give community residents the opportunity to speak with project delegates, see project presentations and learn more about each proposal.
“Each and every one of the 19 projects would be fantastic additions to our community,” Van Bramer said. “Community members narrowed down the list of hundreds of ideas to 19 real, implementable projects. These projects run the gamut from school improvements to pedestrian safety to improvements in NYCHA houses.”
Residents in the 22nd District will have the same opportunity, voting how to spend $1.5 million on projects to improve their neighborhoods. City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) released a voter guide last Friday with proposals that include a new computer lab for IS 141, a new cyber center at the Queens Library Astoria branch, a new sitting area in Astoria Park and upgrades for the Long Island City High School auditorium.
“So far this year, nearly 400 residents have participated in the process, sharing their ideas and discussing what the district needs,” Constantinides said. “I’m anticipating a big turnout from the community to vote on these proposals next month.”
Voting is open March 28 to April 3 at numerous locations throughout the district.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr