FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22
June 19, 2019
Contact: Terence Cullen
Constantinides Announces New York City Budget that Fulfills Educations Plans, Strengthens Sustainability and Makes New Investments in District 22
Astoria, NY — Council Member Costa Constantinides announced budget victories for Western Queens that will enhance schools, embolden efforts to fight climate change, and make streets safer. Passage of the $92.8 billion budget, which takes effect on July 1, also marks milestone moments in Constantinides’ Science 2050 initiative, restores vital services to the Astoria Houses, and expands successful citywide initiatives.
“Western Queens grows stronger by the year because of the investments this community has made together,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22, who serves on the Budget Negotiating Team. “Thanks to Speaker Corey Johnson and Finance Chair Daniel Dromm for your leadership, partnership, and friendship throughout this process. The services we’re bringing back to District 22 make our community brighter, greener, and safer for the future.”
Creating a Greener, More Resilient Community
Constantinides, as a Budget Negotiating Team member, helped secure $43.5 million under the Play Fair initiative to give the Department of Parks & Recreation the necessary resources to fight climate change. This money will, in part, hire 100 more maintenance workers and 50 new gardeners; allocate $8 million toward urban gardens; and invest $4 million to forestry, recognizing the vital role green spaces play in reducing the City’s carbon footprint.
In partnership with Speaker Johnson, Constantinides worked to secure $4.6 million for renovations at Gorman Playground in East Elmhurst. The multipurpose play area will undergo a $3.1 million reconstruction, with the remaining $1.5 million covering renovations to the basketball courts, handball courts and enhancing the grass areas.
The Council also expanded the GreenerNYC initiative by $510,000 citywide in the new fiscal year. Each Council Member will thus have $80,000 in discretionary funding for environmental education, sustainability measures, and green job training. The CleanupNYC initiative also grew by nearly $2 million in recognition of the negative role waste plays in our environment. CleanupNYC now provides more than $13 million for Council Members to use in keeping their districts clean.
New Investments on the Hallets Cove Peninsula
The Astoria Houses Senior Center will remain open after the executive budget proposed shuttering the facility — one of a dozen citywide put on the chopping block. Doing so would have forced seniors to be bused to another facility simply for socialization or a hot meal. Instead, the Department for the Aging will take control of the space, which recently completed a $500,000 renovation, from the New York City Housing Authority.
Constantinides will also invest $500,000 to install outdoor furniture as well as more plant beds and a new irrigation system behind the Astoria Houses Community Center. Ongoing renovations to the historic Queens Library at Astoria branch received a supplementary $250,000 through Participatory Budgeting, which ended in April. These allocations represent a six-year effort by Constantinides’ office to secure more than $25 million for improvements on the Hallets Cove Peninsula.
Major Hydroponic Science lab victory, new technology investments, and renovations at Council District 22 schools
Every public school in Council District 22 has now received funding for hydroponic science labs in a major victory for Constantinides’ Science 2050 initiative. P.S. 2, I.S. 10, P.S. 151, P.S. 234, P.S. 235, and Q397 each will receive $160,000 for the labs, which provide hands-on lessons in biology, technology, agriculture and nutrition. These cost-effective learning tools teach students how to grow vegetables and herbs with mineral solutions and a limited amount of soil. Four hydroponic labs are already service in the Council District, with more scheduled to open this coming fall.
Constantinides also secured $900,000 for schools in his council district to receive technology upgrades, giving principals discretion on how to spend the funds. Another $35,000 will pay for STEM cards and $85,000 for new laptops at Q397. An early childhood library is coming to P.S. 70 thanks to a $100,000 allocation from Constantinides. The budget also gives P.S. 141 $175,000 for gym renovations.
Three of the five winning Participatory Budgeting proposals will also vastly improve Council District 22 schools. Rapid-fill water bottle stations will replace water fountains at P.S. 2, P.S. 17, PS. 84, P.S. 85, P.S. 122, P.S. 151, PS. 171, and P.S. 234 through a $285,000 allocation. Council District 22 constituents also voted to allocate $250,000 for high-speed Wi-Fi upgrades at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy. Last, P.S. 70 received $150,000 for electrical upgrades in 11 classrooms to support window-unit air conditioners.
Expansions to the Cultural After School Adventures Initiative, or CASAs, will allow the program to operate in two additional Council District 22 schools. Students are able to find empowerment and new ways of expressing themselves through these after-school theater programs.
Enhancing Street Safety and Mobility
The Council Member allocated $300,000 for the Department of Transportation to improve pedestrian safety along Astoria Boulevard from 80th Street to 90th Place. Enhancing this section of the six-lane thoroughfare is crucial: an East Elmhurst resident was fatally struck by a bus while crossing Astoria Boulevard in this area nearly five years ago.
Constantinides also allocated $180,000 for more real-time passenger information stations throughout District 22. This Participatory Budgeting winner will help residents know when the next bus will arrive, underscoring the vital role this mode of transit plays in a holistic transportation network for Western Queens.
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 of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.