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.

Woodside landlord is the third worst in the city

Photo courtesy of Public Advocate Jumaane Williams
Photo courtesy of Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

A notorious landlord with a large residential property in Woodside landed yet again on the city’s Worst Landlords List.

Eric Silverstein, who owns the 78-unit building at 37-45 59th Street in Woodside, dropped from first to third on the public advocate’s watchlist.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who visited the site with State Senator Mike Gianaris, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Woodside on the Move this week, said his place on the list is not a cause or celebration.

“He didn’t get better, other landlords got worse,” Williams said.

Silverstein owns four buildings on the 2019 list, totaling 315 units. His buildings average 1,144 HPD violations per month over the last year, including unsafe wiring, roach and mice infestations, faulty window guards, leaks and mold.

Here’s the Top 10 Watchlist for buildings in Queens.

Van Bramer hosts 10th annual Holiday Food Drive

Food Drive Flyer 12 2019

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer is hosting his 10th annual Holiday Food Drive from now until December 20.

The drive is collecting the following non-perishable food items: canned meats, canned soups, canned veggies, canned/dried fruit, infant formula, peanut butter, dried goods, other pasta, rice and grains.

The collected items will support the women and children who receive services at the Long Island City-based nonprofit Hour Children.

Here are the drop-off locations:

  • Sunnyside Library, 43-06 Greenpoint Ave.

  • Woodside Library, 54-22 Skillman Ave.

  • Long Island City Library, 37-44 21 St.

  • Court Square Library, 25-01 Jackson Ave.

  • Broadway Library, 40-20 Broadway

  • Hunters Point Library, 47-01 Center Blvd.

  • Van Bramer’s District Office, 47-01 Queens Blvd.

TONIGHT: Sunnyside Shines Annual Holiday Lighting

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The holiday season is almost upon us, and that can only mean one thing: lighting ceremonies!

Tonight, Sunnyside Shines BID is hosting its annual lighting ceremony at 43rd Street and Greenpoint Avenue from 6 to 7 p.m.

There will be performances by The Fabulous Fezziwigs Carollers, Sunnyside Drum Corps, McManus Irish Dance, Manhatitlan Mexican Dance, Sunnyside Ballet and Dance Matters NYC.

Enjoy free coffee and hot chocolate, courtesy of White Castle.

To get a sense of what goes down at the ceremony, check out this article covering last year’s event.

Gianaris hosts Thanksgiving Creative Program

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State Senator Mike Gianaris is hosting his annual Thanksgiving-themed creative program once again this year.

Young people from across western Queens are invited to submit a creative depiction showing what they are thankful for this time of year.

Students in kindergarten through sixth grade can submit works of art, poems or short stories. Entries are due by November 25.

“This program provides students an opportunity to reflect on the holiday season and learn to express themselves creatively,” Gianaris says. “I encourage young people to embrace their creative spirit this Thanksgiving season.”

Entries can be submitted on Gianaris’s website at gianaris.nysenate.gov.