By Bill Parry
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) announced Tuesday he had allocated $15,000 in funding for Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District, which administer the Sunnyside Arch, for a brand new lighting system.
“The lights have proven a little hard to maintain. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t,” Van Bramer said. “It’s a terrific landmark that needs a little love.”
The funding will go to a $17,000 upgrade of the lights, completely replacing them with digital LED lights. The improvement is expected to be completed later this year.
“I am proud to support the work of Sunnyside Shines and to fund this vital renovation of the Sunnyside Arch,” Van Bramer said. “For decades, this arch has served as a gateway to this incredible neighborhood and to the entire borough of Queens. I look forward to the new lighting and to keeping this arch a neighborhood icon that we can all be proud of it.”
Van Bramer made the announcement surrounded by community leaders and business owners a few feet from the arch that stands on 46th Street and Queens Boulevard across from the No. 7 subway station. Van Bramer called it a beacon which had a renovation in 2011 that “wasn’t done well” with the multi-colored lights failing for eight month in 2012 before failing completely last year.
The arch will be cleaned and weatherized as well. “The winters have been pretty tough on it,” Van Bramer said.
BID Executive Director Jaime-Faye Bean said the digital LED light system would include a new background for the letters that spell out Sunnyside, calling the arch “a reflection of pride in the community, a reflection of support for the local business.”
The lights can also be programmed to change colors for holidays just like the Empire State Building, according to Van Bramer. The arch was built in 1983 by the Gateway Restoration project run by Luke Adams, the former president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce who died in 2014.
The following August the street corner at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard was co-named in Adams’ honor.
“It’s important that we never forget the life of Luke Adams,” Van Bramer said at the time. “His work helped put Sunnyside on the map and has left a lasting impression that will forever be felt in our community. By ceremoniously co-naming 46th Street in his honor we will help ensure future generations of Sunnysiders remember his legacy and all the great work he did for this neighborhood.”
Van Bramer mentioned Adams’ love of the arch Tuesday.
“We honor our past and by making sure this archway and its lighting is restored we are also honoring our past and our future by making sure this neighborhood remains a beacon,” Van Bramer said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr