2020 Preview: Things to watch out for in southeast Queens

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Photo: Carlotta Mohamed/QNS

Cleanup continues for families affected by sewage backup in South Ozone Park 

DEP workers onsite pumping raw sewage from homes.

South Ozone Park residents affected by the major sewage backup that flooded about 80 homes during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend are continuing to pick up the pieces following the disaster.  

On Dec. 16, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) submitted a report to the Comptroller’s Office with the results of the investigation into the incident, which concluded that a portion of the 42-inch sewer that runs under the Belt Parkway and the Conduit had collapsed, causing the sewage backup into the south Ozone Park neighborhood.

Meanwhile, though Comptroller Scott Stringer granted an emergency procurement of funds in order to clean residents’ basements of sewage and replace damaged boilers, residents have had to file additional claims for other resulting personal expenses. 

The DEP/OEM/Comptroller have had staff on the ground to help residents fill out the claim forms. Residents have 90 days from the date of the incident to file a property damage claim with the Comptroller.

“There have been no sewer backups since a robust, and with redundancy, pump around system was put in place in the days after the initial blockage,” a DEP spokesman said. “This system will remain in place until the new sewer is constructed.”


Success Academy Parents and educators continue to rally for new Middle School 

Queens Success Academy Charter School students protest at St. Alban’s Roy Wilkins Park calling for Mayor Bill de Blasio to build a new middle school.

Southeast Queens parents of Success Academy scholars are continuing the fight against Mayor Bill de Blasio demanding a proposed location for a new middle school. 

Success Academy had rejected the mayor and the Department of Education’s proposed location for a middle school in South Jamaica at 125-18 Rockaway Blvd., after touring what they called a “small” and “aging” building. 

The 70-year-old building used to house Our Lady’s Catholic Academy students until 2016, and it would require a complete renovation in order to fix electrical and water damage that would cost several millions of dollars, according to Success Academy. 

Although Mayor de Blasio had announced at a Nov. 13 town hall meeting that the location would be permanent and can house up to 500 students, Success Academy said the building can only accommodate 330 students, according to building capacity guidelines of New York State Education Department.

Success Academy officials also said there is no multipurpose room, gym or auditorium, and transportation to and from the school doesn’t serve most families. 

Success Academy has asked for the mayor’s help in finding a permanent home for their middle school in southeast Queens for more than two years now. Students, their parents and educators have held protests on the steps of City Hall and at Roy Wilkins Park in recent months to ask the mayor to keep his promise.


Jamaica Co-working and Training Facility breaks ground 

The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation joined by Empire State Development, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and local elected officials at The Moda Building, located at 89-14 Parsons Blvd., which will be transformed into a 12,000-square-foot work space and will provide up to 255 jobs in the community.

A new development in the heart of downtown Jamaica is currently in the works that is expected to support 255 jobs in the local community. 

The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation’s Downtown Jamaica Co-Working and Training Facility at The Moda Building, located at 89-14 Parsons Blvd., will provide room for up to 80 local entrepreneurs and independent professionals. 

The project is supported by a $1.65 million performance-based grant from Empire State Development, which was awarded as part of Jamaica’s selection as a Downtown Revitalization Initiative winner in 2016. By providing New Yorkers with access to affordable flexible workspaces and business equipment, the project will support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to further build Jamaica into a major economic hub. 

In the coming months, GJDC will invest $5.1 million towards the development. The shared workspace will provide flexible workspaces and other business equipment to entrepreneurs, startups, freelancers and others at affordable rates — helping foster a community of ingenuity and business growth in Jamaica.


JFK Redevelopment Project to bring  jobs, business, and resources to the community

Thousands of jobs will be coming to southeast Queens as part of the $13 billion JFK International Airport redevelopment among a series of initiatives targeting employment opportunities, business opportunities, and training and education resources that will benefit local neighborhoods. 

The JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council, co-chaired by Congressman Gregory Meeks and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, will launch a major job recruiting program for the 15,000 jobs at the airport and the 4,000 construction jobs that will be created by the five-year construction program which is scheduled to begin next year.

The JFK jobs program will enhance outreach to underserved neighborhoods in Jamaica, Far Rockaway and the surrounding communities. 

Additionally, a new Far Rockaway office at the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation will open in the spring and will have four dedicated staff members focused on connecting local residents to new employment opportunities. Additional outreach and recruiting support staff will be based at the Council for Airport Opportunity’s main Jamaica office.

Other programs will include a second chance employment initiative will be targeted toward formerly incarcerated people, a new science and technology program for 300 local students to steer them toward careers in aviation, and concession opportunities for local retailers and restaurants. Plus, the Port Authority and JFK Airport will roll out extensive training programs to enable small businesses to qualify and compete for other future concession opportunities.