Sunnyside gets new open streets

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Under the mayor’s new Open Streets initiative, Sunnyside will have several streets open to pedestrians and cyclists.

The Sunnyside Shines BID will manage 46th Street from Queens Boulevard to Greenpoint Avenue, a 0.05-mile stretch, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Other open streets include Skillman Avenue between 39th Place and 43rd Street, a 0.19-mile stretch, and 39th Avenue between Woodside Avenue and Barnett Avenue, which covers nearly half a mile.

On Friday, Mayor de Blasio announced that 50th Avenue between 48th Street and 44th Street, covering 0.19 miles, will be included in the initiative.

No traffic will be permitted on open streets, except local deliveries, pick-ups and drop-offs, necessary city services, utilities and emergency vehicles.

Even those vehicles will be confined to 5 miles per hour along these routes.

New COVID-19 testing site in Woodside

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Sunnyside and Woodside residents now have another option for COVID-19 tests.

Woodside on the Move has teamed up with State Senator Michael Gianaris to urge residents to get tested at St. Sebastian’s at Roosevelt Avenue and 58th Street.

Testing will be available for qualified residents by appointment and will take place from May 21 to May 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The site is organized by Somos El Futuro, a social welfare organization serving Hispanic communities. Sunnyside and Woodside are two neighborhoods that have been hard hit by the virus.

Interested people can make an appointment by calling 1-833-766-6769.

The NYS Health Department website has instructions on who can be tested.

Look up other testing locations here.

Virtual Queens Parent Advisory Board Meeting on Thursday

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The next Queens Parent Advisory Board Meeting will be conducted virtually on Thursday, April 30 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Department of Education will discuss remote learning, cancelled tests and other changes to the academic calendar due to COVID-19

Come equipped with questions because after the presentation, parents will be able to ask administrators about these changes.

This is a good chance for parents to learn about how virtual learning will progress moving forward.

AOC raises $82,000 for six local groups

Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Last Friday, Sunnyside Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez kicked off a fundraising drive for local organizations in her district.

Her re-election campaign raised $82,000 in just three days.

“These organizations are providing invaluable support to NY-14’s families,” she said. “We are so grateful for their work, and we are proud to support them in lieu of our traditional end of the quarter fundraising.”

These six groups received funds:

  • Hungry Monk Services – supports unhoused New Yorkers, operates a mobile food pantry, delivers food to people in Queens
  • Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway – Bronx food pantry that serves everyone, provides rent assistance
  • Amazonians United NYC – supports Amazon workers exposed to COVID-19 in the warehouse
  • NYSYLC’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund – gives cash assistance to undocumented families in NYC whose livelihoods have been impacted by decline in street vending and layoffs in domestic and service industries
  • New York Immigrant Freedom Fund – pays immigration bonds to release people from detention
  • Make the Road NY’s COVID-19 Response & Emergency Fund – providing direct cash assistance to 4,000 families in next few weeks

All Queens Library branches closed starting March 16

Starting on Monday, March 16, all branches of the Queens Public Library are closed to the public to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of staff and the public.

Previously, all New York City libraries suspended public programming to achieve the same goal.

Here’s what the libraries had to say about the suspension of programming on March 12:

The decision to cancel library programs was not taken lightly, as programs such as story times, training classes, and English language classes are lifelines for so many. But considering the current situation, and the need to limit large crowds, this was the most responsible path forward to support the health and well-being of our communities.

Closing all branches is the right decision to limit the pandemic as much as possible.

We look forward to seeing all library branches open when this is over.

Construction begins at Hart Playground

Credit: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks
Credit: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

A $3.2 million reconstruction of Hart Playground is now underway.

This morning, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver broke ground on the project, alongside Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Acting borough President Sharon Lee.

The project was designed with input from the local community.

Improvements include a fully reconstructed playground with painted games and a new concrete spray shower.

The basketball court will be redone, and a new half-court basketball and volleyball/badminton court will be introduced to the site.

There will also be a new entrance on 65th Streets with both stairs and an ADA accessible ramp.

The playground is expected to be open by January 2021.

Donate to “Queens Week of Service” in Woodside

Queens Week of Service

All 14 Queens community boards is joining Acting Borough President Sharon Lee in hosting a borough-wide “Queens Week of Service” from February 10 to 17.

Community boards will collect much-needed resources at each of their offices to give to institutions serving veterans and the homeless.

Specifically, donated new pairs of socks will be given to homeless neighbors in partnership with Monkworkx Corp.

Donated toothpaste, body lotion, body wash, zippered hoodies and sweatpants with drawstrings will be distributed to patients at the St. Albans VA Medical Center.

In Woodside, the drop-off location is 43-22 50th Street in Woodside, where Community Board 2’s office is located.

Thank you to everyone who donates and participates in Queens Week of Service!

Community board application deadline extended

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Community Board 2 meets in Sunnyside

If you haven’t sent in your community board application yet, don’t fret!

Acting Borough President Sharon Lee has extended the deadline for qualified and civic-minded applicants to Friday, March 13.

That means you’ll have six additional weeks from the original January 31 deadline to submit completed, signed and notarized applications to the BP’s office.

“The extension is to ensure that the pool of applicants is as robust as possible,” Lee said.

The community board application can be found online here.

There are 14 community boards in Queens. The boards hold hearings and issue recommendations on the city budget, municipal service delivery, land use and other matters that impact the community.

The borough president appoints all of the members, but the local City Council representative nominates half of the appointments.

Each member serves a two-year term.

For this upcoming round of appointments, the two-year term begins on April 1, 2020.

Van Bramer exits Queens borough president race

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Sunnyside Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has dropped out of the special election for Queens borough president.

In a campaign email to supporters on Monday morning, Van Bramer announced the end to his campaign.

“Family circumstances have been weighing on me for some time, causing me to reconsider the timing and feasibility of this campaign,” he wrote.

“Prioritizing my responsibilities as a son and brother is where my attention needs to be right now, ” he added. “While this is a difficult decision, this is the right one for me and my family at this time.”

Van Bramer’s third and final term in the City Council will end in 2021.

The sudden announcement was shocking because Van Bramer was starting to pick up momentum from a slew of endorsements, most recently from LGBTQ leaders.

He had also raised more than $310,000 in campaign contributions, the second highest behind former Councilwoman Liz Crowley.

While Van Bramer’s next steps are uncertain – he is term-limited – he will have more opportunities to run for Queens borough president after this special election on March 24.

After the special election will be the primary in June, followed by the general election in November.

In 2021, there will be another primary and general election, this time for a full four-year term as Queens BP.

Parking meters won’t take cards in parts of Sunnyside

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UPDATE: It turns out the parking meter malfunction was citywide, and it was due to a technical glitch from the start of the new year.

According to reports, the payment software on muni-meters was configured to end on January 1, 2020. The vendor that was hired to develop the system forgot to update its software.

The city’s DOT has reportedly said there’s no estimate for how long the fix will take.

That means for the time being, we advise that you carry some quarters with you to pay the meter. Or at the very least, find your local bodega or laundromat for change!

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This morning, parking meters in areas of Sunnyside appeared to have a malfunction of some kind.

The muni-meters on 47th Street and Greenpoint Avenue did not take credit or debit cards, and only accepted coins. The meters along Queens Boulevard and 43rd Avenue also had the same problem.

Even the machines under the 46th Street/Bliss Street station overpass did not take cards.

As of 2 p.m., the machines still did not work properly.

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We’ve reached out to the Department of Transportation to about the issue. DOT requested users to file a 311 complaint.

The meter problem did not appear to be citywide or even borough-wide. Motorists we’ve contacted in Forest Hills and Astoria confirmed that the meters in those commercial areas were working.

We’ll keep you posted on how the DOT responds to our inquiry.