By Mark Hallum
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) announced a budgetary victory for his district Monday after securing up to $14 million from the city budget, the Queens delegation and Borough President Melinda Katz. The record-setting funds will be used to enhance schools, parks, libraries, law enforcement and senior care, according to Vallone.
“This year’s budget is another clear victory for our communities and will go a long way to continue making our schools, parks, libraries and non-profits the best they can be. The last three years has clearly put northeast Queens back on the map, where it always should have been,” Vallone said.
His district covers Bayside, Whitestone, Auburndale, College Point, Little Neck, Douglaston, and Flushing.
With the help of allocations from Katz’s office, $2.8 million will go to schools, $1.4 million will go to libraries and $5.5 million will go to parks. Green spaces awaiting upgrades are College Point Sports Fields, Frank Golden Park and Bay Terrace Playground.
According to Vallone, 80 new officers will be added to the 109th Police Precinct.
In April, the winners of this year’s participatory budget were announced and Vallone’s district had the highest turnout in the city.
Vallone spoke about the success of participatory budgeting in an April news conference, saying “4,500 votes shows you when a community comes out and gets involved, spends their nights and their time, this process is very worth it.”
Over $2 million will go fund a new music education facility at Bayside High School; facility upgrades at JHS 194, PS 79 and PS 193; and multiple upgrades to Harvey Park.
Vallone was able to acquire $6.9 million in funding from the city Department for the Aging to expand on two initiatives to improve the quality of life for the elderly in his district. The Healthy Aging and Support Our Seniors initiatives are organizations which provide services such as transportation and will benefit from this funding, according to Vallone.
“I will always continue to be an advocate for our city’s seniors and I am proud to have fought for these additional funds to improve and increase the services available to our seniors,” Vallone said.
Queens was included in the executive budget for FY 2017 to receive $10 million for the first animal shelter in the borough. Residents are currently forced to go as far as Brooklyn, Manhattan or Staten Island to access a shelter. Vallone and NYCLASS announced in May this addition will relieve stress on the three existing shelters and make adoption an easier option for those in Queens.
Vallone is calling the 2016 Independence Day celebration at Fort Totten June 29 a statement to the rest of the city of the success over the past three years.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall