Queens bus network redesign workshop comes to Jamaica

The MTA is redesigning the entire bus network in Queens, and they want the public to chime in on the changes.

Specifically, the redesign will result in fewer turns, fewer bus miles and better, more direct connections to subways.

There will be longer distances between bus stops and straighter paths for each route.

You can see examples of the changes in the map above for southeast Queens, a transit-starved area that relies heavily on buses to get around.

The new routes will run along highly-used thoroughfares like Linden Boulevard, Jamaica Avenue, Guy R. Brewer Boulevard and Hillside Avenue.

They all converge on the Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer station, a transit hub that connects multiple train lines (E, F) and LIRR.

To get a better sense of how your current bus line will be rerouted, check out the MTA’s route profiles here.

As part of their effort to solicit feedback from the public, the MTA is hosting a series of public workshops with tabletop maps for attendees to pinpoint their routes.

On January 23, the MTA will host a workshop at the Queens Educational Opportunity Center, located at 158-29 Archer Avenue in Jamaica, from 6 to 8 p.m.

If you’re a regular bus rider and your commute will be changed by the redesign, be sure to attend the workshop to give your feedback on the proposed routes.


New affordable industrial center opens in Ozone Park

A new affordable industrial center has opened in Ozone Park, thanks to funding and support from state agencies.

Last week, the nonprofit industrial developer Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC) marked the site’s opening along with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and a slew of government officials.

The 85,000-square-foot facility will provide affordable space to more than two dozen local small and mid-sized manufacturing businesses.

The 113-year-old factory site was renovated with $11 million in investments from the state.

The industrial center is spread over three buildings and spans an entire city block. It will be leased to woodworkers, artisans, custom fabricators and other entrepreneurs.

Officials estimate it will provide about 80 jobs at the facility.

Read more about the industrial center in this week’s Leader-Observer.


Young constituents donate hair to Butterflies by Blaq

On Tuesday, Councilman Adrienne Adams hosted a hair donation event where young people donated their locks to a local nonprofit.

Thanks to free haircuts and styling from Aracelis Unisex hair salon, every young person was able to donate hair to Butterflies by Blaq, which provides high-quality wigs to children with medical conditions.

The group was formed in 2012 by Erna Blackman, a former volunteer at American Cancer Society, to assist children coping with hair loss.

At the event, Saaya Kanhoye, 14, donated 14 inches of her hair. Her 9-year-old sister, Shaila, donated 35 inches of hair.

“Hair donors like Shaila and Saaya are important to us because longer hair donations are the building blocks of wig creation,” Blackman said. “Most of the girls that request our services now want longer hair. Although we accept and are grateful for 10 inches, the desired lengths are 12 inches or more.

“We love it when we meet young people who feel the need to give back,” she added. “People helping people makes the world a better place.”


“Punjab Way” and “Gurdwara Street” coming to Richmond Hill

Two thoroughfares in Richmond Hill are being co-named next year to pay homage to the neighborhood’s growing Sikh and Punjabi communities.

Councilwoman Adrienne Adams announced last week that 101st Avenue between 111th Street and 123rd Street will be renamed “Punjab Way.” Punjab is the region in India where Sikhism originated.

In addition, the two-block stretch on 97th Avenue from Lefferts Boulevard to 117th Street will also be known as “Gurdwara Street.” A gurdwara is a Sikh place of worship.

We have a beautiful multicultural mosaic not only in my district but the city as a whole and believe that it should be celebrated,” Adams said. “It is important that diverse communities see themselves and their varying cultures represented in the landscape.”

According to Annetta Seecharran, executive director of Chhaya CDC, Punjabi and Sikh communities have been part of Richmond Hill for over half a century.

“From construction sites and yellow cabs, to hospitals and our government, Punjabis and Sikhs help run this city, and are part of its fabric,” she said. “We are excited to see that our community is finally being represented for its contributions.”


6th annual Southeast Queens Winterfest and Toy Giveaway

Last week at Roy Wilkins Park Recreation Center, Councilman I. Daneek Miller and local elected officials hosted the 6th annual Southeast Queens Winterfest and Toy Giveaway.

The celebration features a slew of free activities for local children, including bouncy houses, face painting, arts and crafts and more.

Ballroom Basix, a group funded by Miller, performerd with students in the program from PS 147 and PS/IS 268.

Following the event, organizers distributed hundreds of toys to local children.

“The holidays are about giving back, and it gives us no greater pleasure than to see the smiles on the faces of little ones each year,” Miller said.


Weprin hosts holiday toy drive in his district

This morning, Assemblyman David Weprin joined the MS 172 school community in Glen Oaks to donate toys during his annual toy drive.

The collection was in honor of Jason Mark Weinstein, the son of Queens Supreme Court Administrative Judge Jeremy Weinstein. It’s the fifth year Weprin is teaming up for MS 172 for the event.

The toys will benefit the children of Heartshare Human Services of New York, as well as other children’s programs in Richmond Hill.

All donations must be received by December 20. They can be dropped off at Weprin’s district offices in Fresh Meadows (185-06 Union Turnpike) or Richmond Hill (111-12 Atlantic Avenue).

The toy drive is accepting new or gently-used unwrapped toys, books or games suitable for kids under 12 years old.


City Council to host hearing on South Ozone Park flooding

Mayor Bill de Blasio visits the home of a Queens resident affected by this weekend’s sewage blockage in South Ozone Park, Queens on Monday, December 2, 2019. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

On Wednesday morning, the City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection will hold an oversight hearing on the causes and response to the flooding in South Ozone Park.

Nearly 100 homes were damaged by backed-up sewage that spewed into basements, displacing hundreds of residents.

City officials initially blamed the sewage incident on residents, alleging that they poured massive amounts of grease down the drain.

The city then walked back their comments.

The committee hearing starts at 10 a.m. inside the Council Chambers at City Hall.


Ozone Park tree lighting set for this Saturday

The Ozone Park Residents Block Association will celebrate its second annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday, December 7.

The event is in conjunction with the Ozone Park Kiwanis, the Southwest Queens Rotary, the Living Word Church, Tibbs Construction, State Senator Joe Addabbo, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato and Assemblyman Mike Miller.

Festivities will begin at 6 p.m. at Living World Christian Fellowship Church (132-05 Crossbay Blvd).

This will be Ozone Park’s biggest lighting event to date, complete with shows from local dance troupes, pictures with Santa, toys, free hot dogs, pretzels, hot chocolate and other surprises.

The Christmas tree will be lit around 7-7:15 p.m.


Frank M. Charles Memorial Park is renovated

Photo courtesy of JBRPC

A beloved park in Old Howard Beach has recently completed a much-needed renovation project.

The entrance, central pathway and handball court at Frank M. Charles Memorial Park have all been redone, thanks to funding from Councilman Eric Ulrich in partnership with the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC), the Charles Park Conservation Society, Wildcat and National Park Service.

The councilman allocated $45,000 for a number of improvements at the park. Work began this summer with the removal of 15,000 square feet of turf along the park’s central pathway.

The space was transformed into a landscape with 9,000 new plantings, including new perennials.

Photo courtesy of JBRPC

Two patios were installed near the entrance of the park to allow better access to pollinator gardens.

The basketball courts also received new nets, and the handball court was rehabilitated and painted.

More improvements are expected in the spring as part of the multi-phase project. Expect more plantings, beautification of the former horseshoe court and infrastructure improvements to plumbing systems.


Ulrich to host 2nd annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner

Councilman Eric Ulrich is hosting his second annual Thanksgiving Day dinner on Thursday, November 28 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Villa Russo, located at 101-12 Lefferts Boulevard.

The free event is held under this mantra: No one should be alone on Thanksgiving.

The councilman started the tradition last Thanksgiving after hearing from several residents who had nowhere to go on that day. More than 60 constituents joined Ulrich last year for dinner at Arabella’s Castle in Ozone Park.

“While the holidays are usually happy occasions for many of us, they can be sad or lonely days for others,” he says. “There are people in our community who suffer from depression, or have nowhere to go on Thursday. I want them to spend Thanksgiving with me.”

Ulrich, who is anticipating a large turnout, picked Villa Russo for this year’s dinner. The venue’s owners generously provided the space at no cost.

Additionally, several local businesses pledged to donate catered food for the event.

The event will provide transportation for seniors and people with disabilities upon request by calling Ulrich’s office no later than Tuesday, November 26.

Volunteers are needed for the day of to help with transportation, setting up and cleaning the venue.

To volunteer, contact Marjorie Coello at 718-738-1084 or at mcoello@council.nyc.gov.

RSVP is strongly encouraged for the dinner.