By Gina Martinez
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) is celebrating the passing of the city’s fiscal 2018 budget, which he said will help provide over $1 million to support non-profits exclusively in his district.
The big beneficiaries are the Bayside Historical Society, the Alley Pond Environmental Center, the Douglaston LDC, Poppenhusen Institute, and the HANAC Angelo Petromelis Senior Center.
The New York City Council passed a budget of $85.2 billion for the 2018 fiscal year Tuesday. Vallone was able to secure nearly $6 million in funding that will directly profit projects in northeast Queens. By working with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) and the Queens delegation, an additional $16.6 million was allocated to Vallone’s district, bringing the total funding amount to nearly $23 million, he said.
“Throughout my first four years, I’ve worked hand-in-hand with my fellow elected officials and have put northeast Queens not just back on the map, but on top of it,” Vallone said. “This year’s budget marks another clear victory for our communities as we continue to invest fully in the future of our children, schools, parks, libraries and non-profits that call northeast Queens their home.”
Vallone, with additional funding from Katz and Mark-Viverito, secured over $4.8 million for his district’s schools and $11.8 million for parks. Every school in the 19th Council District will receive at least $50,000 for critical upgrades and parks will get significant upgrades as well, with $8 million going into the renovation of the Alley Pond Environmental Center and $2.5 million into the Bay Terrace Playground.
“APEC has now been fully funded for its renovation project that will create a brand new state-of-the-art building for APEC to continue providing world class environmental education to children and adults, protecting and preserving Alley Pond Park and researching and advocating for sustainable environmental policies and practices.” Vallone said.
In this year’s Participatory Budgeting process, Vallone’s district once again received the most votes of any district in Queens. A total of $1.4 million was allocated to fully fund the top four projects, which include upgrades to NYPD security cameras, a technology upgrade for the Whitestone Library and 3,200 new lockers for Bayside High School.
Voters allocated $500,000 to the top project, a full electrical upgrade for PS 41 in Bayside. Vallone also secured $1.05 million from the School Construction Authority to fully fund the $2 million project. He also obtained another $1.1 million to fund a complete renovation of PS 41’s playground.
In addition, Vallone, chairman of the Council’s Subcommittee on Senior Centers, fought for funding for the Department for the Aging, resulting in the administration providing a permanent baseline funding increase of $22.89 million for core senior services. According to Vallone, this is the largest increase in funding that DFTA has seen in years and will provide a boost to the services they are able to provide.
His advocacy also led to a 50 percent increase in funding for the Council’s “Support Our Seniors” initiative, which Vallone created. Now every Council member will receive an additional $60,000 to directly fund organizations that provide quality senior services within their districts.
Vallone used the funding to launch a senior transportation pilot program earlier this year in northeast Queens. The program has helped hundreds of seniors attend medical appointments, shopping trips and visit cultural institutions throughout the city.
“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 aging population,” Vallone said. “This huge increase in funding will make sure 2017 is remembered as the Year of the Senior.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart