A Queens lawmaker recently secured a record $37 million in funding for improvements to northeast Queens for Fiscal Year 2022.
On July 2, Councilman Paul Vallone made the announcement following the passage of the $98.7 million city budget on Wednesday, June 30. As part of the final budget of his tenure in the City Council, Vallone secured funding for District 19 green spaces, schools, organizations, nonprofits and quality of life improvements for his constituents.
During his eight years in the City Council, the lawmaker fought for and secured over $160 million for his district, which covers Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck, Malba and Whitestone. Of the over $160 million, $42 million went toward upgrades to local schools and over $72 million was used for improvements to district parks.
“I have fought hard to make sure that northeast Queens was not ignored and given our fair share and recognition that it deserves as a part of this great city,” Vallone said. “I am proud to have been able to bring so many resources to my community in partnership with fellow elected officials. We are excited for the future of our district, and the impact of these projects will be felt for generations to come.”
Bay Terrace Playground
A total of $20 million went toward building a new 1.5 acre playground in Bay Terrace on a swatch of land owned by the Parks Department since 1943. The park is adjacent to the Cross Island Parkway and Waters Edge Drive and 24th Avenue where the SCA proposed building a new school. The site was chosen following parking complaints from community leaders related to the proposed 572-seat elementary school.
Preliminary concepts for the playground include a parking lot, children’s play area, comfort station, security lighting, walking paths and adult fitness equipment.
“This investment into Bayside’s green spaces will provide Queens residents and visitors with even more high-quality open space for recreation and fitness,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Thanks to Council Member Vallone, we’re creating a brand new playground for the children and families of Bay Terrace to enjoy. We’re grateful for Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Vallone’s continued partnership and dedication to enhancing green spaces to better serve the surrounding communities for years to come.”
The Parks Department and local community leaders will hold a scope meeting prior to unveiling a final design.
Funding for education
Part of the funding will go toward improvements for District 19 schools. Vallone and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards secured $700,000 to upgrade the M.S. 379 playground in College Point.
“The students, parents and staff of CPC extend our gratitude to Council Member Vallone and Borough President Richards for supporting the construction of a new playground for our children.” said M.S. 379 Principal Renee Klager, “We look forward to collaborating with our school community to create a fun, enriching space that our students can enjoy for years to come.”
Additionally, every district school will get a minimum of $50,000 for important technology upgrades. $440,000 will go toward auditorium audio-visual upgrades at P.S. 209 in Whitestone.
At the college level, Vallone provided $16 million in funds for the Peter F. Vallone Academic Scholarship, a CUNY Merit-Based award for CUNY students who maintain a B average.
In partnership with Richards and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Vallone was able to fund various community-improvement projects around District 19.
A total of $4.5 million will go toward converting an existing baseball field into soccer fields at College Point Fields and $2.75 million will be use to build pathways and renovate synthetic soccer fields at Raymond O’Connor Park in Bayside.
Auburndale Library will receive $500,000 in funds to build an outdoor reading garden.
“With Council Member Vallone and Borough President Richards’s latest capital allocation the construction of a reading garden at Auburndale Library is now one step closer to reality,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “We are grateful to them for securing funds not only for this project, but for their continuous financial support to help Queens Public Library meet its mission to provide free access to information, knowledge and opportunity for all. The garden will be a tremendous asset to the entire community, offering a tranquil, inspiring space where people can learn, grow and transform their lives.”
Vallone secured $2.7 million for the historic Center for the Women of New York building renovations at Fort Totten. According to CWNY, funding will go toward completing construction on the building’s second floor.
“Thanks to the support of Council Member Vallone, Speaker Johnson, and Borough President Richards, CWNY can continue to empower women across New York City by providing programs and services that address the economic, emotional, and legal challenges they face,” said CWNY President Cecilia Venosta-Wiygul.
To improve the quality of life in District 19, $150,000 will go toward NYPD security cameras to mitigate community issues like drag racing.
“Our community made it clear that they would like to see more ARGUS Cameras and Councilman Paul Vallone helped make it happen.” said 109th Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector John O’Connell. “It is with great police work and crime prevention tools like the ARGUS Cameras that help the NYPD continue to lower crime rates and keep our City safe. Thank You Councilman Vallone.”
A large chunk of the funding, $7.1 million, will go toward funding the Support Our Seniors initiative, which the councilman established in 2015. The initiative provides each Council Member equal funding to support local senior services at their discretion.
Finally, Vallone secured $1 million for nonprofits in District 19 including the Bayside Village BID, Commonpoint Queens, the Alley Pond Environmental Center, Douglaston LDC, Poppenhusen Institute, Korean Community Services, and HANAC Angelo Petromelis Senior Center.