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Constantinides Delivers ‘State of the District’ Speech, Plans to Replace 114th Precinct House and Bring Solar Energy Plant to Rikers Island

Costa Constantinides Delivers State of the District 2019 (Photo: CM Constantinides)

Feb. 4, 2019 By Meghan Sackman

Councilmember Costa Constantinides unveiled his 2019 plans for Astoria and East Elmhurst in his State of the District speech Thursday night delivered at The Alfred Zimberg School.

Constantinides said his major plans include building a solar energy plant and wind farms on Rikers Island once the 400-acre prison site is closed; replacing the 114th Precinct house; and adding more renewable energy sources in schools.

He said that all these goals are very achievable.

“The story of our district has always been about new ideas and bold decisions,” he said. “All the work we are setting out to accomplish in 2019 will make this a cleaner, safer, greener Queens.”

Constantinides also spent a good portion of his speech discussing the progress he has made to improve parks in the district and combat rising real estate costs.

Rendering of Phase 1 at Astoria Park (Parks Dept.)

Progress on Parks

The councilmember reported that the first phase of the $34 million Astoria Park upgrade has begun—which includes the installation of a synthetic turf soccer field and a revamped track.

Phase two of the program, which includes the construction of Charybdis playground by the pool and the renovation of a comfort station by the playground, will begin later this year.

Other park improvements announced in the address include the reopening of the renovated Louis C. Moser playground, located in East Elmhurst, in October. This revamp, which cost $1.9 million, included new play equipment, children’s spray showers and an updated drainage system.

Constantinides also noted the 2018 completion of the $7.9 million upgrades to Astoria Heights Playground, which is located between 5th Street and 46th Street along 30th Road. The city installed new play equipment, a spray shower area, and green infrastructure systems.

Affordability

The councilmember noted that it is becoming harder for long-time Astoria residents to live in the area as rents keep rising.

“We are in a housing crisis,” he said. “We need to do everything we can to ensure New York is a place we can all call home.”

Constantinides announced that part of the solution is to provide affordable housing for seniors.

Last year, he pledged to add 500 affordable units to the district specifically for seniors.

The councilmember said that funding for 250 of those units has been secured, made possible by the allocation of funds by Catholic Charities and Council Speaker Corey Johnson. The proposed senior development planned for 31st Street and Broadway, which will consist of between 100 and 150 units, is now funded.

“We’re making sure that more Queens residents will be able to enter their golden years knowing that they don’t have to fear losing the neighborhoods they’ve called home,” the councilmember said.

Other housing concerns were also addressed. He said rising housing costs stemmed, in part, from landlords hiking the rent via Major Capital Improvements (“MCI”). He said he is working with state legislators, which determine such law, to amend it. He also wants the city to having a greater say in terms of rent regulation—as opposed to the state.

Access to the Waterfront

Constantinides said he wants residents to have greater access to the waterfront, and wants the fossil fuel power plants that are located next to the East River to be gone.

The need for the replacement of these power plants with renewable energy sources is essential in the fight against climate change, he said.

He said renewal sources of energy could be installed nearby instead.

One specific location Constantinides proposed, based on research conducted by the CUNY Center for Urban Environmental Reform, is the 400-acre property that will be available on Rikers Island after the jail is shut down as is being proposed. He said the site would be idea for solar and wind farms.

“We need to begin the transition away from these [fossil burning] plants now,” Constantinides said. “Renewables installed on the island could be used to replace most, if not all, of the plants that have been built in the city over the past two decades.”

“The opportunity we have before us is to reclaim the waterfront that has been off limits for generations,” Constantinides said. He added that water treatment plants could also be built on Rikers Island, which would help stop the flow of sewage into waterways.

Environment and Schools

I.S. 126 Gets New Hydroponic Lab (Photo: CM Constantinides)

Constantinides said he plans to provide all schools in his district with hydroponic science labs and to be clad, in part, with solar panels.

He plans to make P.S. 2 in East Elmhurst the first carbon neutral school to exist in New York. The building would use geothermal energy, which uses ground water for heating and cooling, and solar panels will be added.

Astoria Boulevard Improvements and New Precinct

Constantinides is also looking for ways to ease congestion issues along Astoria Boulevard.

He said he has called on DOT to conduct a study that will establish a holistic approach, to account for all modes of transportation, to make the road safer and less cluttered.

One recurring issue is the lack of parking along the roadway, a large portion of which is taken by police vehicles from the 114th precinct.

Constantinides said that he wants to replace the entire precinct with a new structure as well as build a parking garage for the NYPD that will free up street space for residents.

“The current precinct…it’s beginning to show its age,” Constantinides said. “It’s time we explore building a new 114th Precinct that’s going to give the brave men and women of our NYPD the space they need to operate at their best.”

114th Precinct House (NYPD)

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25 Comments

GXO

I say just move the statue of Columbus from Astoria Blvd. to the middle of the intersection of Steinway & Broadway for the hell of it !! Why not ?? It would be a change !!

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Sandinista

Wake up Astoria. This guy is trying to be the next locasio. But look at the facts. He is against Uber. Why? Because the taxi moguls are all in Astoria and lining his “campaign “. Not at all for his immigrant constituents that are driving Uber and left taxis for a better life. Neither for you looking for a ride to the airport or the city. And let’s not ignore Airbnb. The nyc hotel lobby has “funded” their campaigns to fight it. Definitely not for your needs to make ends meet. So what is it that you don’t understand?

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Wake up Astoria

Old school politics rebranded for a new generation. You should wonder. Is it for me or a pocket. Let’s take Uber for example. These “persons” are all against it. Is it because the taxi moguls who contribute to their campaigns are all in their zone? Obviously, for their constituents are drivers and of immigrant status who live in their zone and have decided to join Uber for a better life and away from the taxi moguls that drained their blood. You as well need a ride to the airport or the city but no one else than Uber can get you there. Let’s take Airbnb, they are all against it. Why? Not for their constituents having an ability to make a few ends meets capitalizing on NYC as a global tourist destination, but because of the Hotel lobby crying fowl and lobbying this guy and the mayor with cash. What is it that you do not understand?

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Pat Macnamara

Clueless Costa and that podium that is grafted to his body. Worried about a greener Queens while monstrous skyscrapers engulf Queens plaza. Meanwhile Steinway street is fast becoming a graveyard. But let’s be sure to have solar panels on rooftops. let’s make sure 100-150 old folks are housed outside of the subway. Out of touch. Vote this moron out.

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Linda Hervas

Don’t know if it’s feasible or in the precinct, but if it hasn’t sold, why not consider the Bulova Building for a new police headquarters.

Like the idea of investigating alternative energy sources on Rikers Island. Makes sense that this would be a wise consideration for that area.

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Tony

I think closing/developing the muni parking lot on 31st & Broadway will hurt local businesses but other than that, everything other idea sounds great. I hope you can pull it off. 👍

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Andy

Residents will still have an issue finding a parking spot because Astoria is just getting too congested. Who is stopping those that park on our streets coming from Long Island and taking the train… what about evening and weekends when people park their cars on residential blocks while they go out drinking/eating whatever on Grand… residents should have priority for parking on their own block instead of hunting for a spot. I’d rather pay for a permit to park on my block, near my home, than lose a spot to someone who has no reason to be on the block. Also, you think congestion is bad now. Ha! Wait until they start closing off lanes on Astoria Blvd for the train station and then further up when they decide to build up the buildings along the Blvd. I agre the 114th needs to be upgraded but they already have a lot…exactly how big will this be… nothing but an eye sore for the area…
as for the playground… they should’ve started that first instead of end of year when children are still playing. There was nothing wrong with the track and that area could’ve been part of second phase … priorities seem to be all wrong.

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JenL

Yes, priorities. It doesn’t make sense to have that million dollar dog park when there are so many other basic issues. I’m also concerned about the health and ecological consequences of artificial turf in the park. Really surprised that Costa went along with that.

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Jon

We should have no parks at all until there are no more hungry people earth.
It is not possible. That is why certain monies are set aside for certain things.

The dog park came from separate funds and it was voted on. You people need to stop bring up the damn dog park because from the looks of it there sure are a lot of dogs using it. Personally, I’d rather have something else but enough already with the dog park (really strip of land).

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Skip Seglipse

What people need to do is get rid of cars. We need to stop being a city dependent on cars. Anyone who insists on owning a car in a city deserves all of the headaches that come along with it.

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ajoe

says the person without the car… here, I’ll try it with one of your things… guessing you have a cat…
What people need to do is get rid of cats. We need to stop being a city dependent on cats. Anyone who insists on owning a cats in a city deserves all of the headaches that come along with it.

There, i fixed it!

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FZ

Planning my escape after growing up here in the 60’s and 70’s, leaving and coming back in the late 90’s to help my parents. This progressive CANCER will destroy the neighborhood. Good bye

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Jon

Park upgrades, senior housing, more energy efficiency, better police station… Yep, these all sound like things that destroy neighborhoods. lol

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ajoe

FZ, though you are probably right, I don’t necessarily blame on those with progressive ideals. Those I meet seem to have good enough intentions. The majority of them are merely what Lenin used to call his “useful idiots”. Having grown up delicate sheep, in an era and environment that fosters group think instead of thinking for yourself. Given the opportunity, they too would see that the world would be much better if they got their own house in order before they tried saving everyone else… or at least maybe pick up and dust off a history book once in a while.

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Jon

A long term energy plan that includes moving operations to Rikers Island seems like a great idea. Gaining all that ConEd real estate for paths, park and green space would be great.

Moving the police station away from such a congested area would be better than putting a new building in the same location. Move the station to 19th Ave and remove all the parking on Astoria Blvd in both directions. Astoria Blvd is too busy of a street to have parking.

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Paul

Sure, move the station…what will replace that building? More tiny one bedroom apts?It’s a shit show waiting to happen.

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JenL

Realistically replacing the precinct building is hugely expensive by comparison — much more than the park projects and crosswalks. I seriously doubt this will happen, even though it is needed. There is a priorities problem and cheaper though less expensive projects get done while others that are more critical do not.

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ajoe

I say keep the building, replace the parking lot on the side with a multi-level concrete garage so that we get all those cop cars off the street.

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ajoe

Too bad the rights to build on rikers will go to the highest bidder who lines the pockets of these politicians.

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