Assembly member Aravella Simotas and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney celebrated the women of Western Queens on Friday, with their fourth annual Women’s History Month luncheon. Over sandwiches and cookies at the Astor Room in Astoria, elected officials and community members feted this year’s roster of honorees, hailing from the worlds of community activism and the arts, for the extensive work they’ve done on behalf of the borough.
Assembly member Aravella Simotas said that although women should be celebrated every day, she thought it was important to dedicate time to recognize the extensive ways that women were shaping the Western Queens community.
“We get to highlight the women who have helped make our community what it is, a great place to live,” she said. “There are so many trailblazers who have come before us in politics, in civic life, it’s important to have a day where we can say thank you, and encourage them to continue their good work.”
Community Activist Patricia Barbor, who was worked within the community for years with local organizations such as the Astoria Civic Association and Mt. Sinai Queens Advisory Board, and was an honoree at Friday’s event, said that her dedication to Astoria was inspired by other members of the community.
“It’s the people,” she said. “They’re interested in where they live, the community support system is terrific. And we’re only getting stronger.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney with, from left, honorees Tracy Capune, Vice President of Kaufman Studios, community activist Patricia Barbor, Amy Hau, the Director of Administration and External Affairs at the Noguchi Museum, and Assembly Member Aravella Simotas on the right.
Local students demonstrated their iPad skills for Council Member Costa Constantinides at Astoria Library on Thursday, 3 months into the pilot program for which he secured funding that provides free access to iPads at the branch.
“We’re seeing a digital divide that we have to close,” he said, citing statistics that show only 41% of residents in nearby Astoria houses have broadband internet. “We have to make sure our students have the tools to compete.”
The pilot program provides access to 10 iPads in the branch, which library-goers are able to access free of charge, although they cannot check them out. The program extends to the Woodhaven branch of the Queens Library Program as well, which also received 10 iPads.
Long Island City High School is owed $7 million by New York State, claims Senator Michael Gianaris. It was determined by a 2006 Court of Appeals decision in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) case, that New York state should provide these funds to the high school, Gianaris states.
“Starving our public schools of the resources they need has led us to a crisis. It is unacceptable that this school, which has beaten back attack after attack in recent years, remains nearly $7 million dollars short of what it needs,” said Gianaris, a L.I.C High School graduate. “We should be giving our kids every opportunity to succeed but instead the students at Long Island City High School have been forced to deal with bureaucratic distractions, and now we find out it’s not getting millions of dollars to which it is legally entitled. I will do all I can to make sure this is rectified.”
The CFE decision determined Albany shortchanged New York City schools by billions of dollars and in so doing failed in its constitutional obligation to provide students with a sound education. Senator Gianaris has long worked to make sure NYC schools get the funding they deserve and will continue his efforts to see that children in western Queens get the educational resources they need to succeed. Gianaris noted his advocacy extends to PS 111 as well, which is owed nearly $1 million. All figures presented come from a recent analysis of what specific schools deserve according to the CFE ruling.
Elected officials joined Mount Sinai Queens doctors on Friday to unveil the Astoria hospital’s new state-of-the-art infusion center. An extension of the hospital’s Tisch Cancer Institute, the outpatient facility will be used to provide chemotherapy as well as a wide range of transfusion services. Caryn A. Schwab, executive director of Mount Sinai Queens, said the new center could allow Mt. Sinai doctors to provide care to hundreds more patients annually.
“With this center, and larger [extension] plans, we’re finally going to give the community what they deserve—the most up-to-date quality care we can provide,” said Mt. Sinai physician Luis Isola, M.D.
The facility is one in an extensive series of renovations and modernizations the hospital has been undergoing since 2013. The $125 expansion plan includes a new six-floor building with 7 new operating rooms, new advanced imaging services and a larger emergency department. The renovated emergency department will open before the end of the year, Schwab said, while the remainder of the renovations should be completed in 2016.
“[Years ago] I realized medical oncology was becoming more complex,” said Howard Greenberg, M.D. “We could cure the incurable, we could provide longer remission times. But those services were only being provided across the river. Because of [these renovations], we’re able to fill the need in the community. It provides us the best of both worlds—world-class medical care from the comfort of your own community.”
A plan that would charge commuters a toll for using the Queensboro bridge—and three other New York City bridges–was put forward last week by an advocacy group that includes the former NYC traffic commissioner, the LIC Post reported.
Under the proposal, workers who commute to Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge each day would have to pay about $60 a week.
The tolls would also be placed on the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges.
The toll on these four bridges would cost $5.54 each way if paid by E-ZPass and $8 each way for other drivers.
There wouldn’t be a toll booth. Instead there would be a sensor that would charge E-ZPass drivers as they go over the bridge. For those without E-ZPass, a camera would take a photo of people’s license plates and they would receive a bill in the mail, according to Bart Robbett, Communications Advisor with MoveNY.
MoveNY, a group comprised of traffic experts, research planners and eco-friendly non-profit firms, claims the tolls would lower traffic congestion and raise funds for the MTA.
In addition to easing traffic congestion, MoveNY claims the new plan would generate $1.5 billion in revenue per year, which would go toward maintaining, expanding and modernizing the transit system and improving city bridges and roads.
State legislators would have to pass the proposal, since the state oversees the MTA.