By Bill Parry
Steinway Street in Astoria is in need of an extreme makeover.
City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) declared he would restore “the beating heart of Astoria” during his State of the District Address at IS 126 last week. He called for a comprehensive reinvestment that ensures the neighborhood’s hub continues to thrive in the 21st century.
“First, it must include a re-evaluation of the streetscape to ensure that it is both safe as can be, and as conducive to commerce as can be,” Constantinides said. “As there have been 249 traffic-related injuries, and 95 specific pedestrian injuries, along Steinway Street over the last five years, it’s high time we take a hard look.”
He called on the Department of Transportation to place mid-block crosswalks along the thoroughfare and consider several other traffic safety measures. The second part of the plan is to create a public plaza or park where pedestrians and shoppers can sit and relax.
“That’s why tonight I’m also calling for a community working group with a wide range of local stakeholders to come together and discuss where we can look to create this space,” Constantinides said. “I think that a good faith collaborative effort can help us find the next great meeting space in western Queens and I will be reaching out in the coming weeks to get the ball rolling.”
Constantinides also praised the hundreds of residents who have taken part in two town hall meetings to discuss the city’s $30 million investment in Astoria Park that will include improvements to the track and soccer field, the reconstruction of Charybdis Playground, improved lighting throughout the park and other amenities. He added that half the parks and playgrounds in the district are getting upgrades as well.
“2016 also marked a crucial milestone for healthcare delivery in our neighborhood, as we were able to cut the ribbon on the brand new emergency department at Mount Sinai Queens,” Constantinides said. “Given the catastrophic losses of hospital beds and emergency facilities in our borough in the last 10 years, this project was sorely needed.”
As chairman of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee, Costantinides had five of his environmental bills passed in 2016 as well as his resolution to call upon New York state to not only teach up-to-date climate science in the high school curriculum, but to talk about in the context of every appropriate class.
“We must ensure that the next generation understands the seriousness of climate change,” he said. “In the era of fake news and information bubbles, it is even more imperative that they learn the correct science and information, based on the facts and not on ideology. If we can accomplish that they will continue to protect this planet for themselves and for generations yet to come.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr