FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22
October 26, 2020
Contact: Terence Cullen
Fulfills Promise to Improve Waterfront Environment for Astoria Houses, Local Schools
Astoria, NY — Council Member Costa Constantinides and the Economic Development Corporation today announced work will begin early next year to revitalize the Hallets Cove waterfront. The highly anticipated investment will both improve the quality of life around the NYCHA Astoria Houses as well as connect western Queens residents with the East River.
“The days of Hallets Cove as a crumbling dumping ground are over,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22. “Thanks to our partnership with the EDC, the Queens Borough President, the Mayor’s Office, and the surrounding community, we will make good on a promise to reimagine this waterfront by restoring its ecology. I’m so excited we can get back to work and realize this vision for western Queens.”
“This revitalization project represents not just a critical investment in restoring the ecology of Hallets Cove, but a commitment to creating an environmentally healthier community deserving of the thousands of residents who call the Astoria Houses and surrounding neighborhoods home,” said Queens Borough President Sharon Lee.
“Creating a healthier, fairer, and stronger New York City are the key tenets of our long-term recovery,” said James Patchett, president and CEO of New York City Economic Development Corporation. “Investments like these, which revitalize our communities are critical to advancing that vision forward. We are proud to be part of an effort that is delivering on a neighborhood vision and making our city a better place for all New Yorkers.”
“The residents at the Astoria Houses and the entire north western Queens neighborhood are excited to see this project get off the ground,” said Claudia Coger, President of the Astoria Houses Residents Association. “As a lifelong Astoria Houses resident and a lover of the outdoors, I’m especially grateful to see these beginning stages of our waterfront’s revival and restoration. This will ensure that many future generations will be able to access, interact, learn from, and appreciate the beauty of our natural landscape. Thank you, Council Member Costa, for seeing this through and making this investment in our community.”
“The dilapidated ‘radio tower’ pier and the inevitable dumping at that location has been a blight on the community for years,” said Marie Torniali, Chair of Community Board 1. “Community Board 1 is excited to learn that funds have been released to cure this condition that will ultimately revitalize the waterfront and restore the wetlands and grateful to Council Member Constantinides and former Borough President Katz for the funding and vision to achieve a waterfront of which we can all be proud.”
“Old Astoria, especially Hallets Cove, is in the midst of a hard fought renaissance, integrating it with the rest of NYC,” said Richard Khuzami, President of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association. “With the advent of the NYC Ferry Landing, the recent stepped up street cleaning by the NYC Department of Sanitation, efforts like the removal of the Radio Tower and corresponding clean-up of the Cove, and Cultural Institutions such as Socrates Sculpture Park and Noguchi Museum, the Western Queens Waterfront is now becoming a destination of choice for all New Yorkers. And the residents of Old Astoria are now easily accessing all that our great city has to offer.”
The Office of Management and Budget recently released the funds to commence habitat restoration in early 2021. Construction crews will finally remove debris and trash, restore the riverbank’s ecology, and take down a decaying pier known as the “radio tower.” Built almost 70 years ago but long closed to the public due to its rotting condition, the radio tower has embodied how physically and emotionally cut off western Queens residents are from the East River.
Work undertaken after today’s announcement will revitalize the waterfront and restore the natural condition of this cove in response to community advocacy. Residents have long fought to stop illegal dumping in the area, which sits near Vernon Boulevard and 30th Road. Constantinides has sought to build a coalition around cleaning up the cove since he took office in 2014. Starting in 2015, his office has allocated $1 million to the revitalization, while former Borough President Melinda Katz invested another $3 million.
This effort has come in tandem with historic progress to improve the East River, which is the healthiest it’s been since the Civil War. Last month, Constantinides announced mobile science non-profit BioBus received more than $300,000 this fiscal year to set up a permanent lab at the Astoria Houses. BioBus will expand its work on the peninsula to teach students about efforts to restore the East River.
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.