Oct. 22, 2019. By Shane O’Brien
Council Member Costa Constantinides announced a plan Tuesday to make all public spaces in Queens accessible to the elderly, people with disabilities and parents with strollers as part of his campaign to be Queens Borough President.
Constantinides, who announced last month that he is running for borough president, would require public spaces such as libraries and subways to be ADA compliant. He said that if he were borough president he would also act as an MTA watchdog and ensure that subway stations are made accessible to all users.
Constantinides held a press conference to announce his plan yesterday at the newly constructed Hunters Point Library in Long Island City. The $40 million library, he noted, includes floors inaccessible to people who use a wheel chair or who have difficulty climbing stairs.
“If we’re going to say Queens is for everyone, we should mean it,” Constantinides said. “Sadly, we far too often see multi-million dollar renovations to subway stations or new libraries that don’t consider the challenges some might face in accessing them.”
Constantinides’s plan would require all capital investments in parks, libraries and schools to include funds to ensure accessibility. He also announced that he would appoint an “Accessibility Coordinator” if elected, who would oversee all work and identify public facilities that pose challenges for people with disabilities, seniors and parents.
Constantinides also noted that there was a need for greater oversight of the MTA in Queens, criticizing the MTA for “poor planning” in relation to recent station renovations and failing to make them accessible.
He condemned the MTA for failing to install elevators when it made recent upgrades at some stations in Astoria. Additionally, he said the agency was guilty of poor planning that has needlessly disrupted residents and businesses.
For instance, when the MTA overhauled the Broadway N/W station between July 2018 and January 2019–and closed the station– it did not include elevators.
The MTA recently announced that it would close the Broadway station again to add elevators as part of its 2020-2024 Capital Plan.
Constantinides said that as borough president he would ensure that renovations are done right the first time around to minimize disruptions.
The Council Member is one of many candidates vying for borough president.
Council Members Van Bramer and Donovan Richards have announced they are running as well as Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman and former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.
Other contenders are likely to come forward.
The seat is likely to be vacated by current Borough President Melinda Katz in January. She is running to be the next Queens District Attorney and is expected to cruise to victory in the November general election.
The city will hold a special election for Queens Borough President within 45 days of Katz’s vacancy.