During one of the most challenging city budget negotiations in memory due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Councilman Paul Vallone secured $20 million for improvements throughout his district in northeast Queens.
Vallone secured nearly $5 million for upgrades at local schools and more than $10 million for improvements to parks.
In his seven years of fiscal budgets, Vallone has now secured more than $120 million in funding for northeast Queens. Every school within his district will receive a minimum of $50,000 to fund important technology upgrades and $5 million and $3.4 million was allocated to complete waterfront, esplanade and seawall repairs at MacNeil Park in College Point and pathway renovations at Joe Michael’s Mile (North) in Bayside, respectively.
Scope meetings for these long-awaited projects will be held with the Parks Department and local community leaders later this year.
“I am thrilled to share the news that these two Parks projects, long-awaited and wished for, will soon see completion,” Vallone said. “These record financial victories for our northeast Queens community are promises kept and will have positive impacts that will carry on for future generations. I thank Speaker Corey Johnson for his partnership in seeing these capital improvements become a reality.”
A total of $1.6 million in funding was also allocated in partnership with Johnson for ecological restorations at College Point’s Powells Cove. This is one of 11 projects on this year’s Participatory Budgeting ballot that Vallone fought to fund in last year’s budget, despite the citywide cancellation of this year’s voting cycle due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Supporting the safety and well being of our northeast Queens families, principals, teachers and students will always be a top priority, and this year’s budget once again reflects just that, with millions in funding secured to make improvements to our schools, parks and libraries that will be enjoyed for years to come,” Vallone said. “I was also happy to honor the hard, grassroots work of our Participatory Budgeting delegates by securing funding for 11 total projects proposed and submitted directly by the northeast Queens community.”
Powells Cove Park was completed in 1999 but it suffered from inadequate maintenance even as usage increases dramatically each year.
“The people of College Point deserve better and we are grateful to Council member Vallone for securing these funds,” Coastal Preservation Network President Kathryn Cervino said. “We look forward to partnering on plans to improve flood-prone and worn out trails, thin the hazardous overgrowth, beautify entranceways and add trash cans to ease the rampant littering. This park is truly a gem in the rough.”
Additional participatory budgeting projects funded in this year’s budget includes a $674,000 classroom renovation at J.H.S. 194, accomplished in partnership with Borough President Sharon Lee.
“The updates to the two rooms in our school is an exciting thing for our school, as it will provide additional updated classroom space for our students,” J.H.S. 194 Principal Jennifer Miller said.
Another participatory budgeting project funded in this year’s budget includes a $500,000 garden at Auburndale Library.
“Council member Vallone’s $500,000 investment in the reading garden at our Auburndale branch demonstrates his commitment to reinforcing the library’s role as a vibrant neighborhood resource,” Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “We are deeply grateful for his support of our mission to transform lives and build strong communities through advancing lifeline learning opportunities.”
Additional capital investments include an $820,000 funding allocation to St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, New York’s largest provider of long-term care to children with medically complex conditions and New York City’s only post-acute care facility for children. The funding will add 10 additional beds to the fourth floor of its Bayside facility.
“Council member Vallone is a true champion for New York’s most critically ill and injured children and their families,” St. Mary’s CEO Dr. Eddie Simpser said. “We are incredibly grateful for his long-standing support for St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children and our work as the city’s only free-standing post-acute care facility for children with medically complex conditions.”