Barry Grodenchik Secures $1.25 Million For The Motor Parkway

Council Member Barry Grodenchik recently announced that he secured $1,250,000 for the rehabilitation of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway.

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Since trails like this don’t have car/truck traffic, they need far less upkeep than other roads.  However, the last time the Motor Parkway was substantially repaved was at least two decades ago.   The heavily used trail is due for repavement, with tree roots making it uneven and unsafe for those with limited mobility.  Council Member Grodenchik’s strategic funding here will encourage human-powered transportation, which is an investment in the health of our neighbors and the environment. Thousands of walkers, joggers, and cyclists use this route for relaxation, exercise, and commuting.  It’s truly one of the highlights of Eastern Queens.

This Motor Parkway cleanup will complement the new infrastructure wins on Oceania and along Alley Pond Park to Northern Boulevard (both of which the DoT plans to install this year). If the Kissena Way project and the Motor Parkway extension are successful, our neighbors will have a protected, continuous route from Long Island to Flushing Meadows / Corona Park.

While announcing the project, Council Member Grodenchik said,

I am pleased to have secured funding for repaving of this historic urban promenade. The Vanderbilt Motor Parkway is a Queens gem that must be preserved. I wish to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the City Council’s Queens delegation for their strong support, which made this allocation possible

We applaud Council Member Grodenchik for publicly fighting for better pedestrian and bike infrastructure in our neighborhood. He is a longtime friend of the Greenway, and we encourage him to keep up the amazing work.

Councilman Peter Koo Publicly Supports the Kissena Way

Councilman Peter Koo recently took some time to meet with community members who support the Kissena Way, a family-safe trail connecting Flushing Meadows Park with Eastern Queens.  Most of the route would be in our parkland, including connections to Kissena Corridor Park’s upcoming meditation garden. Our own Eastern Queens Greenway team made the presentation showing the current state of the parkland and what it could be like in the future.
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Councilman Peter Koo was very positive to the plan, later tweeting, “A great plan. Looking forward to creating more connectivity in our parks!”
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If you agree that our kids should have safe access to all of our parkland, please consider signing the Kissena Way petition and passing it along to your friends.
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Together, we can really make a difference in our community.

Monthly Meeting This Monday

This Monday is our monthly in person meeting.  As usual, it’s going to start at 7:30 PM at the Old Quaker Meeting House in Flushing.

137-16 Northern Boulevard
Flushing, New York 11354

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The meeting location is at the intersection of Main Street and Northern Boulevard, two of the heaviest used streets in Eastern Queens.  It’s walking distance from the subway (7 train), LIRR (Port Washington) and bus routes to all areas of Eastern Queens and beyond.

 

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We truly appreciate the generosity of those willing to let us use this historic, centrally located space for our meetings.

What the Win On Northern Means For All Queens Streets

On Monday, June 5th, 2017, Community Board 11 Queens voted to support 6 miles of protected bike lanes. With this approval, the Department of Transportation will begin improvements this year; they estimate that construction will begin around September and be completed in a few months. This timing would work well with the Oceania/210th Street protected bike lanes CB11Q approved earlier this year, which will be built over the summer. The additional 6 miles of protected bike lane will really update the cycling map in Eastern Queens.

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Street safety projects have captured public interest in New York City.  Modern engineering proves that cities can work better for citizens, increasing their quality of life and decreasing car casualties.  This Eastern Queens project has been featured on New York 1, The Bayside Patch, Planetizen, and Streetsblog.  There was a follow up article by Streetsblog, which is so dedicated to Eastern Queens that it sent a reporter to cover the Community Board meeting, and another by the Times Ledger and the Queens Chronicle. Even Twitter was aflutter with CB11Q the night of the vote.

Screenshot from 2017-06-06 13-46-26Trending

The large press turnout was generated by the overwhelming community support for this project. Within just a few weeks, 1,111 neighbors signed a petition demanding this infrastructure improvement.

Screenshot from 2017-06-06 18-38-35OnlinePetition

Almost every community member we talked to on the street was excited to support this project. Many local organizations wrote endorsement letters in favor of the project. Representatives from Westmoreland Association, Inc., Kissena Park Civic, Douglaston Village Chamber of Commerce, Douglaston Local Development Corporation, Transportation Alternatives, and our own Eastern Queens Greenway came down to the meeting in person to express their support.

Eastern Queens citizens are very vocal about the infrastructure they deserve, but community support of DoT proposals does not guarantee infrastructure improvements will be built.

At the most recent Community Board meeting, the Board discussed whether it would recommend that the project move forward.  Prior to this meeting all Board members received documentation of the proposed plan. The Board decided that the project would be voted on in three sections.  Before discussion was allowed to get very far, Janet McEneaney put forward a motion to table the first two sections of the plan but allow a vote on the third section.  She argued that since the Transportation Committee had not officially voted on this proposal, it was inappropriate to vote on it at the general meeting.  Community Board Chair Christine Haider clarified that committee votes are not required for a general meeting vote, and this board often will vote without a committee recommendation.  Bernard Haber, the chair of the Transportation Committee, mentioned that he felt this issue was better discussed by the full Board, so he did not feel a Committee vote was the right choice.  In addition, no member called for a vote during the Transportation Committee meeting when this project was initially discussed.  The vote to table the motion was called 16 in favor, 15 against, and 2 abstaining.  Since the abstentions counted against the motion, it did not pass.  The committee then re-entered discussions on the first section (which focused on Northern Boulevard).

The DoT and others were able to resolve many of the concerns brought up during discussion.  To questions about fire safety, the DoT mentioned that the FDNY has reviewed and approved the plan.  There were claims that businesses were against the project, but Susan mentioned that all businesses were contacted, and there was no major opposition (multiple businesses and Chambers of Commerce came to the meeting to express their support of the proposal).  There was discussion of Bernard Haber’s plan to take some of the wetlands/grasslands north of Northern Boulevard to build a bike path.  DoT mentioned that they could research the idea, but putting the infrastructure DoT proposed in place would not preclude research other plans for the future.  Bernard’s plan would be a substantial capital investment and would take a minimum of 5 years to build.  Earlier that night, however, DoT had showed a slide that showed the injuries sustained in this section of Northern Boulevard over a recent 5-year period.
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The final vote on the Northern Boulevard section was 18 in favor, 11 against, 1 abstaining.

The second section voted on was the Douglaston Parkway route to the Long Island Rail Road station. Without much discussion, this motion failed with a tied vote of 15 in favor and 15 against.

The last vote was on the Alley Pond West part of the project. There were calls to hold a voice vote since there was such broad support from the Board. A roll call vote was taken, and the project passed unanimously.

It’s not surprising that the community supports projects like this that not only make our streets much safer but also increase the quality of life in our neighborhood, allowing kids to safely travel to parkland. That’s why even when our Eastern Queens neighbors don’t know each other, they join groups like Transportation Alternatives, a New York City organization that encourages street safety projects for walkers, joggers, and cyclists (like the one being discussed).  But for some people, projects like this mean much more.  Jay Michaels, MMC (Joe Michaels’ son) wrote to the community board, saying:

It has come to my attention that the area around the Joe Michaels Mile has deteriorated.  So much so, that a cyclist was killed at an intersection recently.  This news saddens me.  Not only because of the deterioration and injures.  It also saddens me because it is my understanding that this beautiful pathway that my father ran on almost every day has now gotten so bad that – if he were alive – even he would wonder if it were safe…

Peter Schenkman is the son of Michael Schenkman, who was killed by a driver last year while trying to get to Joe Michaels Mile.  He spoke at the Community Board meeting and submitted a letter reading:

I lived in Eastern Flushing for a few years after college and would regularly navigate the dangers of Northern Boulevard / Alley Pond corridor to get to the Joe Michaels mile for a quick ride or skate.  As far back as I can remember, cars sped through the corridor.  With the huge downhill heading east, navigating the street as a pedestrian or cyclist is like playing a sick frogger game where you try to avoid being hit.  Unfortunately in my father’s case, killed…Separated, protected spaces for pedestrians and cyclists to safely access Joe Michaels Mile from Northern Blvd is an important, necessary first step.  It will prevent other Queens residents from suffering the same fate as my father.

We have to stop the killing!

The Eastern Queens Greenway will continue to work with the neighborhood to make sure everyone can travel safely.  The overwhelming support for this win proves strong community interest in making our hometown better.  We hope you’ll work with us as we advocate for other grassroots projects that Eastern Queens residents have proposed, like:

Motor Parkway East will connect the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway trail in Queens with the 14-mile Motor Parkway Trail being built in Nassau. We need your help NOW to pass a bill in Albany.

Rebuild Utopia Parkway As a Complete Street so that it is safer for everyone who uses the street: pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, and bus riders.

The Kissena Walk will build a trail in the parks that would connect Bayside and Flushing Meadows / Corona Park. This would allow families and kids to avoid busy streets like Main Street, College Point Boulevard, and Booth Memorial Avenue.

Most importantly, we’d love for you to join us at our monthly meetings where community members help each other implement street safety ideas that they come up with. We meet on the 3rd Monday of the month at 7:30 PM.

Flushing Quaker Meetings House
137-16 Northern Boulevard
Flushing, NY 11354

The Motor Parkway Needs Your Help Today

Our friends at The Motor Parkway East project are looking to connect the Motor Parkway Trail in Eastern Queens with the 14-mile long Motor Parkway Trail being built in Nassau.  Currently there are bills in Albany that are stuck in committee and we need your help to move them forward this legislative section.  Assembly Bill A.5103 (Weprin/Braunstein) and Senate Bill S.1566 (Avella) ask the state to study an extension of the Motor Parkway to Little Neck Parkway.  This small stretch would make a big impact in connecting the trails by getting through a difficult area.

You can help right now by signing their petition to push the bill to the floor:

http://bit.ly/2rWITFZ

Since this is a State issue, please share this petition to all of your friends and family who live throughout New York State. 

If you really care about this project and have a few minutes you can make a big difference by calling the Senate and Assembly leaders and your legislators.

Speaker Carl Heastie (518) 455-3791
Senator Jeffrey Klein (518)-455-3595
Senator John Flanagan (518) 455-2071

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Tonight You Can Save Lives in Eastern Queens

Tonight is the final vote to decide if Eastern Queens children receive infrastructure improvements to make it safe for them to get to their parks.  The miles of safe space (mainly along the edges of our Alley Pond) will give thousands of residents new park access.  Unfortunately we expect opposition at the Community Board meeting to this improvement and there is a very real chance it will not pass. If you care about the kids in Eastern Queens, you can make a real impact by coming down tonight to show that the community demands that DoT’s plan (pdf) gets built. If we win tonight DoT will start to build it this year so kids should have safer park access next summer

When:
Monday, June 5th (tonight) at 7:30 pm

Where:
Middle School 158 (Auditorium)
46-35 Oceania St.
Bayside, NY 11361

We’ve been doing everything we can to show that the neighborhood supports this plan. Over the past few weeks we have gathered over 1,000 signatures of community members demanding that this plan gets built for our children. (Many of the paper forms are not recognized on the website yet).

We have gotten this project featured on New York 1, Planetizen, and Streetsblog so the community knows what’s going on.

Most importantly when we talk to our neighbors on the street, we’ve found overwhelming community support for this issue. Opposition was only about one in a thousand. Average residents in our community strongly support this plan, even if their responsibilities don’t allow them to be active in these forums.

Unfortunately, all of this is not enough to get the life saving infrastructure our community deserves. There is a very real possibility that the Community Board will kill this plan tonight. Please come out tonight, no matter what the weather is, because you can make a real difference.

Northern In The News

The infrastructure improvements on Northern Boulevard and along Cunningham Park are getting incredibly poplar in our neighborhood. The Department of Transportation’s plan was recently highlighted in multiple media outlets.

New York 1 created a wonderful video including an interview with Michael Schenkman’s son.

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Planetizen put together a great quick overview of the project.

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Streetsblog did a phenomenal job digging into the real meaning of this project.

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Additionally, we’ve found overwhelming community support on Joe Michaels, on the Mountain Trails, on the Motor Parkway, and at Peak Bike Shop.

If you have your own photos or articles, tag them with #FixNorthern on Twitter so we can gather everything together.

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Free Family Trails Event at Cunningham Park This Saturday

This Saturday, May 27th from 10:00 PM to 2:00 PM Trips For Kids is hosting a free Family Trails event at Cunningham Park.

You can take beginner mountain bike lessons or take a guided trail ride. There is a kids learn to ride session (bring your own bike) and Bike Art workshop by Recycle a Bike. Also, our friends at Peak Bike will have Santa Cruz demonstrations.

There is something for everyone so make sure to RSVP here.

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Downtown Flushing Bike Workshop

If you have ideas about how bicycles should be treated in Flushing, please come and give your opinion tomorrow May 24, 2017 at 6:30 P.M. at the Free Synagogue in Downtown Flushing:

41-60 Kissena Blvd
Flushing, NY 11355

We’ll look at some maps, talk about cycling infrastructure, and work together to increase safety for all road users. In honor of Bike Month, DoT will be giving out free bike maps and safety materials, including free bike lights and bike bells.

Our Eastern Queens Greenway group strongly supports building The Kissena Walk and hopes to eventually add extensions to help our neighbors get to our local businesses. The conversation at the Bike Workshop will help the community decide what improvements we make to our city.

Thank you Council Member Peter Koo, DoT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia, Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Choe for organizing this conversation for the public.

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