Mayor discusses new library, outdoor classroom at Briarwood town hall

Mayor discusses new library, outdoor classroom at Briarwood town hall
Courtesy of Mayor’s office/Benjamin Kanter
By Naeisha Rose

Mayor Bill de Blasio held a town meeting at MS 217 in Briarwood last week where he updated the community on issues such as street repaving and a new library. Moderating the event was Councilman Rory Lancman (D- Hillcrest).

The mayor said the city has invested $1.67 billion in a long-term repaving plan, which included fixing 43 lane miles last year and 35 since this summer at Horace Harding, Union Turnpike and Parsons Boulevard.

On Oct. 20 the mayor’s office announced there would be 21 new bus routes throughout the city, five of which would be within Lancman’s district.

The mayor also said the city would be supporting Lancman’s initiative for an outdoor classroom at Willow Lake, which is located at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Lancman’s office has already invested almost $2 million in the outdoor classroom and the mayor’s office will add additional funds to ensure the project gets completed.

“We want every park to be great,” said de Blasio. “We are going to add another $800,000 to finish it and get it done.”

Some of the pressing questions from civic leaders involved a library, lighting and quality-of-life crimes.

Rosalie Quinones, the vice president of Friends of Briarwood Library, grilled the mayor about when the construction of the library would begin to meet the needs of the ever-growing population of the area. The time line for the completion of the library is 2020.

“When are we going to have a brand new library built to meet our needs?” Quinones demanded.

Unfortunately, she did not get good news.

“There are challenges as to what it’s going to take,” de Blasio said. “It is on our radar screen and we are trying to come up with a plan.”

Monica Corbett took the mayor to task about lighting at Pomonok Houses, the large public housing development. Scaffolding was recently removed from the area after window replacement finished and was a source of lighting at the NYCHA site, according to the Pomonok Resident Association president. The lack of lighting in the project has been an issue for a while.

“We have been asking you for new windows at Pomonok since you were public advocate,” Corbett said. “You are now the mayor the second term in. We need lights!”

“When you walk down the street, it is like a black hole,” she added.

The general manager of NYCHA said that seven lights were out and the city was in the process of replacing them next week. But that wasn’t good enough for Corbett, who said of the 660 outdoor fixtures there, a majority of them do not work.

The mayor decided to send the general manager to Pomonok to take a tour with Corbett and requested a budget if necessary to address any further problems that might arise on his visit.

Another inquiry made to the mayor was about the recent crimes made in the business improvement districts within Lancman’s district, which covers parts of Jamaica.

According to an executive committee BID member, there have been burglaries, robberies, grand larcenies, and car thefts in the area, which have been driving away foot traffic for business owners and he does not understand what the 60 neighborhood community officers in the area were doing.

The mayor was quick to correct the committee member that there are only 35 non-commissioned officers in the section where the crimes were taking place, but admitted while overall crime has dropped throughout the city, some areas were going to need more resources.

The inspector for the 103rd Precinct said he approved 10 cameras to be spread near the business of the district, and he would continue to monitor the situation.

The mayor said if necessary he would redirect more officers to area that need more resources.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.