By Bill Parry
After decades of dormancy, Astoria’s Hallets Peninsula is springing to life with the launch of a new NYC Ferry route in August while the Durst Organization moves forward with its massive $1.5 billion Hallets Point development, featuring seven buildings and 2,400 apartments, a waterfront esplanade, school and a supermarket.
City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) met with community leaders last Friday at the Astoria Houses and announced he had allocated nearly $7.5 million in funding for capital projects for playgrounds, security, and surrounding community facilities that will improve public spaces on the peninsula at the western end of Astoria.
Constantinides secured $3 million in funding from Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) for improvements at Hallets Cove Playground to upgrade the empty asphalt blacktop into a multi-purpose ballfield. He also allocated $500,000 for Whitey Ford Field.
The update will include re-grading the baseball field, resodding the grass, and other updates to prevent flooding conditions. Security improvements will soon be implemented at NYCHA Astoria Houses with a nearly $1 million investment from Constantinides. He allocated $500,000 towards upgrading lighting at the Astoria Houses parking lot, and another $459,000 towards installing new closed-circuit TV cameras inside the stairwells.
“I am proud to have secured funding for safety improvements, playgrounds, and recreational spaces on Hallets peninsula,” Constantinides said. “It’s been decades since Hallets Peninsula received significant investment from our city. Since taking office three years ago, we have made investment here on Hallets a top priority to ensure our residents receive the funding to their community they deserve.”
The Queens Library at Astoria provides much-needed resources to residents of Astoria Houses and the nearby area, including new books, computers, help with research, and assistance with documents. The branch will soon be greatly improved with a $3 million investment that Constantinides secured from Mark-Viverito. This funding, along with $1 million that he obtained in previous budget cycles will go toward making the entire building ADA-accessible, improvements to the children’s room and other upgrades as part of the largest allocation that this branch has received in decades.
“Libraries cannot meet their mission to serve everyone unless they are accessible to everyone,” Queens Library President Dennis M. Walcott said. “The Council member’s financial commitment ensures the current and future residents of the community that Astoria Community Library is their anchor for knowledge, information and dreams.”
In 2016, Constantinides partnered with Borough President Melinda Katz to allocate funding for an eco-dock kayak launch at Hallets Cove that will bring waterfront access and education to the residents of western Astoria. They also invested capital funding that year to improve the play equipment at Hallets Cove Playground. Both projects are currently in the design phase.
“Every so often time produces an unusual legislator with an unusual mandate,” Urban Upbound Co-founder and CEO Bishop Mitchell Taylor said. “This is how many define Council member Constantinides. He’s a man on a mission to improve the lives of his constituents by investing in the communities they live in everyday. It is a pleasure and joy to work with such a passionate and talented legislator.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr