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Weigh in on the Future of Two Publicly Owned Buildings in Western Queens Saturday

An outdoor event will be held Saturday discussing the future of the Dept. of Education building, pictured, located at 44-36 Vernon Blvd. (Provided by the Western Queens Community Land Trust)

Sept. 17, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

An outdoor event that seeks to provide residents with an opportunity to weigh in on the future of two publicly-owned properties in Long Island City will take place Saturday.

The event, which will be held at Queensbridge Park from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., aims to solicit opinions on the fate of the Dept. of Education building on Vernon Boulevard and the city’s sanitation garage on 21st Street.

The gathering, called Public Land in People’s Hands, will also provide attendees with information on how community land trusts (CLT) work—as well as tenants’ rights with regard to NYCHA housing. A number of tables will be set up inside the entrance to the park at 41st Avenue and Vernon Boulevard.

The event is being organized by three local groups – Western Queens Community Land Trust (WQCLT), Justice For All Coalition and Ravenswood Community Land Trust – that advocate for keeping New York City’s public land and buildings in public ownership.

For instance, the WQCLT wants to see the Dept. of Education building, located at 44-36 Vernon Blvd., repurposed for community use. The six-story building sits on public land that had been promised to Amazon when it announced plans in 2018 to build a sprawling campus at the Anable Basin inlet.

Jennifer Robinson, a coordinator for WQCLT, said that the group enlisted an architectural firm earlier this year to come up with different designs for the DOE building. Bagchee Architects, a Manhattan-based firm, will present the plans to attendees at the event.

The WQCLT is looking for feedback from the community on the plans and how residents would like to see the building used in the future.

“This would be the first step before going to the city and proposing a plan [for the building] that would be for public use versus a development that would be for private use,” Robinson said.

The conceptual plans include a rooftop farm, affordable spaces for music and arts, a workforce training center and a youth center.

A rendering of new plans for the Dept. of Education building on Vernon Boulevard, designed by Bagchee Architects (Provided by WQCLT)

Additionally, the Ravenswood Community Land Trust, a recently formed group, is looking for attendees to suggest ideas about the future of 24-28 21st St. where the Dept. of Sanitation garage is currently located, Robinson said.

The DSNY plans to vacate the dilapidated facility and move its operations to an industrial site by Luyster Creek in Astoria. The city has pledged not to sell the 21st Street site to private developers.

The Dept. of Sanitation garage on 21st Street (Photo: Google Maps)

Volunteers for the group will also explain how community land trusts operate. CLTs involve non-profit groups managing public land with the primary goal of providing affordable housing to communities.

Meanwhile, the Justice For All Coalition will be on hand to provide information on the benefits of public housing and why NYCHA should not be privatized.

Western Queens Community Lan posterd Trust

Western Queens Community Land Trust

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