The Council of the City of New York
Office of Costa Constantinides
(718) 274-4500

For Immediate Release
June 16, 2017
Contact: Shachar Sharon

Constantinides Announces Community Support for Funding to Transform Hallets Peninsula

Astoria, N.Y. – City Council Member Costa Constantinides, today announced a Fiscal Year ‘18 discretionary capital budget allocation of almost $7.5 million for capital projects on Hallets Peninsula.  Community organizations and city agencies including NYCHA Queens Borough Director Carolyn Jasper, Queens Library COO Lew Finkelman, Astoria Houses Tenants Association President Claudia Coger, Urban Upbound CEO Bishop Mitchell Taylor, Friends of Whitey Ford Field Co-Founder Sam Schachter, and Old Astoria Neighborhood Association President Richard Khuzami joined to support the funding and demonstrate the benefits to the area.

Constantinides secured and allocated funding for playgrounds, security, and surrounding community facilities that will improve public spaces on the peninsula at the Western end of Astoria.

Constantinides secured $3 million in funding from Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for improvements at Hallets Cove Playground to upgrade the empty asphalt blacktop into a multi-purpose ballfield. He also allocated $500,000 for Whitey Ford Field. The update will include re-grading the baseball field, re-sodding grass, and other updates to prevent flooding conditions. The improvements to these two greenspaces will bring environmental benefits to the neighborhood and offer improved spaces for enjoying ball games.

Security improvements will soon be implemented at NYCHA Astoria Houses with a nearly $1 million investment from Constantinides. He allocated $500,000 towards upgrading lighting at the Astoria Houses parking lot and another $459,000 towards installing new closed-circuit TV cameras inside the stairwells. These upgrades will improve visibility and increase safety for all Astoria Houses residents.

Funding for the basketball court at Astoria Houses was also allocated by Constantinides, an investment now totaling $600,000.

The Queens Library at Astoria provides much-needed resources to residents of Astoria Houses and the nearby area including new books, computers, help with research, and assistance with documents. The branch will soon be greatly improved with a $3 million investment that Constantinides secured from Speaker Mark-Viverito. This funding, along with $1 million that he secured during previous budget cycles, will go towards making the entire building ADA accessible, improvements to the children’s room, and other upgrades. This is the largest allocation that this branch has received in decades.

Constantinides had previously invested capital funding in this library branch for a mobile tablet lending operation and a self check-in book vestibule.

Constantinides said, “I am proud to have secured funding for safety improvements, playgrounds, and recreational spaces on Hallets Peninsula. These capital projects will go a long way towards making the neighborhood safer, greener, and more fun for families. It had been decades since Hallets Peninsula received significant investment from our city. Since taking office three years ago, we have made investment here on Hallets a top priority to ensure our residents receive the funding to their community they deserve. We thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and all of my colleagues for their support of Astoria. We look forward to continuing to work with city agencies and community stakeholders as these projects are designed.”

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our residents and investing in cameras and lighting is essential to creating safer, cleaner, and more connected NYCHA communities, ” said NYCHA General Manager Michael Kelly. “Thanks to the support of Council Member Constantinides, we will be making these security improvements at Astoria Houses, benefitting 1,100 families.”

“Libraries cannot meet their mission to serve everyone unless they are accessible to everyone,” said Queens Library President Dennis M. Walcott. “The Council Member’s financial commitment ensures the current and future residents of the community that Astoria Community Library is their anchor for knowledge, information and dreams.”

Astoria Houses Tenants Association President Claudia Coger said, “This funding will greatly benefit our Astoria Houses residents. It will make our community safer and improve our recreational space. Thank you Council Member Constantinides and the City Council for continuing to invest in our neighborhood.”

Friends of Whitey Ford Field Co-Founder Sam Schachter said, “Whitey Ford Field is one of the many gems of Astoria and its wonderful park system. It has become more than just a baseball diamond but a community gathering for all Astoria residents. We would like to thank Council Member Costa Constantinides for taking the right steps and allocating funding for the field. Our members frequently have to play with rain puddles and mud. This funding will help alleviate these conditions and ensure many more years of safe use for our community. We know that this is an investment in Astoria, in our community, and future generations of all Queens ballplayers. “

“Every so often time produces an unusual legislator with an unusual mandate” said Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, Co-founder & CEO of Urban Upbound. “This is how many define Councilmember Constantinides. He’s a man on a mission to improve the lives of his constituents by investing in the communities they live in everyday. It is a pleasure and joy to work with such a passionate and talented legislator.”

Constantinides has made the revitalization of Hallets Peninsula a priority since taking office. In 2014, he negotiated a historic land-use zoning agreement for a future development on the peninsula. In the first mandatory inclusionary housing agreements in city history, affordable housing was permanently including in the zoning law and a record 27% of the development will be permanently reserved for low- and middle-income households. He also worked with city agencies to ensure that citywide ferry service would be expanded to Astoria. The ferry, set to open in Astoria in August, will provide a sustainable and innovative source of transit to residents of Western Astoria who currently need to travel over 45 minutes to get to Manhattan via subway and bus.

In FY ‘16, Constantinides partnered with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz to allocate funding for an eco-dock kayak launch at Hallets Cove that will bring waterfront access and education to the residents of Western Astoria. They also invested capital funding that year to improve the play equipment at Hallets Cove Playground. These projects are currently in the design phase.

Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on six additional committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.

###