By Mark Hallum
Civic leader Brent O’Leary announced he will run for office in the seat currently held by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who will be forced to give up his seat by term limits in the 2021 citywide elections.
O’Leary, who is founder and president of the Hunters Point Civic Association, has been a prominent figure in the communities within the district, addressing issues such as over-development and the controversial bike lanes on Skillman and 43rd avenues.
“I see life getting increasingly difficult for this district due to rising rents, a crumbling MTA, and out-of-control overdevelopment – without the infrastructure we need to support it,” O’Leary said. “I am ready to fight for more schools, more green spaces and the community resources we need to keep this a great neighborhood to live, work and raise families in. I will fight so that working families and individuals have livable wages and that our most vulnerable citizens are protected.”
Van Bramer has announced plans to run for Queens borough president in February as he and three quarters of the City Council will also be term limited out along with Melinda Katz, leaving Van Bramer’s current office and the borough president’s office free of incumbents.
O’Leary has spoken out against the city DOT’s proposal to bring bike lanes to Skillman and 43rd avenues between Roosevelt Avenue and 33rd Place, which will eliminate 120 parking spaces and is believed will negatively affect business along the two corridors.
“We know what we need and we have told them with a loud and clear voice that this proposal is wrong,” O’Leary said at a July 25 rally against the bike lanes. “This is not safety because we have offered an alternative proposal on Northern Boulevard, which is the obvious place for this and will keep all the bicyclists safe … we spoke loud and clear and they ignored everything we said.”
The bike lane proposal went through multiple public hearings where residents rejected the plan, which was revised several times before being struck down at Community Board 2 by a vote of 27-8 in a June 7 meeting that lasted about six hours and ended well after midnight.
In February, O’Leary was a leading voice in the call for a youth recreation center in Hunters Point to accommodate the growing population of Long Island City, where unprecedented growth is continuing with 22,000 residential units either proposed or currently under construction.
Hunters Point Civic has posted an online petition at Chang
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall