By Mark Hallum
City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) got a big win at a town hall for Mayor Bill de Blasio when over $8 million was given to his district for park improvements.
The announcement came on Nov. 2 in the gymnasium of Martin Van Buren High School, just prior to the general election in which Grodenchik faced Republican Joe Concannon, who he beat by a 65 percent margin.
“Although a very mild-mannered and warm personality, he can be like a dog with a bone when he wants something,” de Blasio said of Grodenchik’s drive to make improvements to Vanderbilt Motor Parkway for which he has already raised $1 million. “We will be investing an additional $4 million in the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway. It has been 20 years since there was an upgrade to that park.”
De Blasio added, “It’s been more than 30 years since there’s been an upgrade to Redwood Playground at Cunningham Park, so we will invest $4.3 million more in Cunningham for new basketball courts and exercise and recreation equipment.”
The mayor said road improvements are underway as part of a $1.6 billion repaving effort citywide. More than 110 lane miles have already been repaved in Grodenchik’s district since the beginning of the repaving effort and 100 more miles are still on the agenda for the city.
“It is essentially the equivalent of driving from here to Philadelphia,” de Blasio said.
Grodendchik’s 23rd District covers Hollis Hills, Queens Village, Douglaston, Floral Park and part of Fresh Meadows and Bayside.
The mayor also said nine Select Bus Service routes will be launched throughout eastern Queens to transport tens of thousands of commuters and invited the community to take part in the launch of each new line.
The Woodhaven Boulevard line of SBS launched this week, with much opposition from the community out of concern for the safety of commuters who are forced to wait in a dangerous median and the loss of one lane traffic for the bus route.
CBS reported the launch coincided with hour-long delays through Woodhaven.
“We also know that people need every option they can to get around – better mass trasit. One of the things that has been most popular has been SBS because the buses are faster and more reliable. More and more people when they try it, they really like it,” de Blasio said.
Three of the new SBS routes will be in Grodenchik’s district.
During the town hall, Concannon led a rally outside the school where 20 or so conservative supporters in “Make America Great Again” hats called for the end of the de Blasio administration and accused Grodenchik and Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) of participating in pay-to-play.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall