Restoration of library funding has significant impact for local library users

37-44 21st St  New York, NY 11101

37-44 21st St New York, NY 11101

June 25, By Christian Murray

Long Island City, NY: In Queens, 428 library jobs were on the line, with the possibility of 36 of the 62 libraries in the borough having to close.

The proposed city budget—put forward by Mayor Michael Bloomberg– called for a $29.6 million cut in library funding in Queens, contributing to the $106 million in cuts that were proposed to libraries citywide.

Yesterday, it was announced that with the latest budget deal reached between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Council these cuts will not take place.

“I am absolutely thrilled with the complete restoration of funding for these vital services,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who is also the chairman of the Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries.

The restoration in funding is significant for the Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City branches. Queens Libraries estimated that the cuts would have halved the number of visitors to these three libraries as well as the number of books lent—given the limited hours. In 2012, the libraries in these three neighborhoods—collectively– generated an estimated 692,000 visitors and lent 771,000 books.

“It has always been my goal to restore every cent of the $106 million in cuts to libraries. This record restoration saves over 1,500 jobs, prevents libraries from closing and allows 5 and 6 day service to continue City-wide,” Van Bramer said. “The truth is you can’t have good neighborhoods without libraries.”

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One Response to Restoration of library funding has significant impact for local library users

  1. Anonymous

    Thanks to all who helped avert this disaster.

    I'm all for public good, but it's hard to support with "exit" economics practiced by the rich.

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Casa Enrique and M. Wells Steakhouse win Michelin star

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Sept. 30, By Christian Murray

Michelin Travel Publications rolled out its New York City’s 2015 Michelin Guide today, and two out of the 73 area restaurants that earned the highly sought honor—a star–are from Long Island City.

Casa Enrique, the Mexican restaurant located at 5-48 49thAve, and M. Wells Steakhouse, which opened at 43-15 Crescent Street less than a year, were honored with a star.

The Michelin Guide, or Le Guide Michelin, awards the top restaurants with one, two or three stars. It is only the exceptional restaurants that make the cut. Only six restaurants received 3 stars, with nine restaurants receiving 2. (Click for list)

The guide’s recommendations are put together by a team of anonymous inspectors, who all undergo strict training and sign confidentiality agreements before filing their assigned reports.

Last week, Alobar and John Brown Smokehouse were among the Michelin 2015 “Bib Gourmand” picks, which notes those restaurants that provide high-quality cuisine at a reasonable price.
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Hundreds turn out in quest for Hunters Point affordable housing, as residents learn about rental prices and income limits

Affordable-housing-004-560x323Sept. 30, By Christian Murray

More than 400-people attended an affordable housing meeting in Sunnyside last night to see whether they would be eligible for a piece of the Hunters Point South dream.

The goal for most was to find out how whether they qualified for one of the 925 affordable units on offer—which comes with building amenities such as a fitness center, outdoor terrace, internet café and meeting rooms.

The complex, which contains two buildings, will be comprised of studios, 1 brms, 2 brms and 3 bedroom units.

The application period is expected to begin October 15 and there will be 186 apartments available to those applicants who fall under the “low income” bracket. To qualify as low income, an applicant seeking a studio cannot make more than $30,000—while a family seeking a 3 bedroom unit must earn less than $50,000 per year.

For those who qualify for the “low income” bracket, the rents would range in price from $494 per month for a studio to as high as $959 for a three bedroom.

However, many attendees wanted to find out about the 738 “moderate income” apartments on offer. The maximum income permitted to be eligible for a studio was a little over $130,000, while the maximum household income for a 3 bedroom unit is about $225,000.

affordablerents

The rents for “moderate income” earners will range from $1,561-$1997 for a studio, $1,965-2,509 for a one bedroom, $2,366-$3,300 for a 2 bedroom and $2,729-$4,346 for a three bedroom.

“This is the best apartment deal in New York City,” said Frank Monterisis, the senior vice president of Related Companies. He said the waterfront complex comes with all the modern fixtures and amenities.

However, some residents said after the meeting that they thought the “moderate income” apartments were too expensive and complained that they made too much money to qualify for the “low income” units.

One man said during the meeting that he was paying less rent now than what the affordable [moderate income] units will be.

However, while some people grumbled, the rents are still significantly less than what is available on the open market. In a recent report released by Modern Spaces, the average studio apartment in a luxury Long Island City building is currently renting for more than $2,500, while one bedrooms are going for about $3,200.

The Hunters Point South apartments, unlike the other luxury Hunters Point buildings, will be “permanently” affordable. Therefore, the rent renewals are determined by a New York City formula– based on the Rent Guidelines Board.

Furthermore, once a lease is signed, tenants are not subject to any income restrictions from that point on.

However, the key is getting an apartment in the first place—and tens of thousands of people are expected to apply.

Attendees were told that they will have 60 days to get their application in after the application period begins. Monterisi said that there will be a vigorous marketing campaign once the 60-day period opens. Residents can also register at HuntersPointSouthLiving.com to be notified of the date.

Community Board 2 residents—who currently live in Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City—will be given priority over outside applicants on 50% of the units.

The application can be submitted online at New York Housing Connect (nyc.gov/housingconnect). Applicants will be required to create a personal profile that provides details as to their income, assets and the number of people who are likely to live in a given unit.

There is no actual limit on assets when applying for a “moderate” apartment. The main focus is on the applicant’s earnings and whether those assets will affect that figure.

Successful applicants will be notified during the first quarter of 2015, with the goal for it to be fully leased by spring 2015.

Two more affordable housing meetings have been scheduled, with on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Big Six Towers in Woodside, and the other on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Academy for Careers in Film & TV.

affordablehousingmoderate income

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Co-owner of The Baroness bar opens performance center in Dutch Kills
Space for private lessons

Space for private lessons

Melanie Lema

Melanie Lemieux

Sept. 29, By Michael Florio

A new performance center offering music and dance classes opened in Long Island City last week.

New York Stage of Mind, a performance-based music education center featuring singing, dancing and acting classes, opened last Tuesday in Dutch Kills at 37-34 29th Street.

Melanie Lemieux, a Montreal native who has lived in Dutch Kills for the past four years, is the owner-operator of the 2,000 square foot center. She also co-owns The Baroness, a bar located at 41-26 Crescent Street, with her husband, Kyle Radzyminski.

Lemieux said that Dutch Kills—as well as the greater Long Island City area—lacked a performance center like hers.

“LIC is constantly expanding and there is a need for a place that offers an intense musical theater program,” Lemieux said.

Lemieux said that she will be offering private lessons for voice, piano and guitar. There will also be dance programs in jazz, hip-hop, modern dance and tap.

The center will offer a weekly musical theater program, which consists of singing lessons and dance. The program will be offered to children, teenagers and adults. The program runs for a semester and at the end each semester the group will perform a musical.

The performance center will also have children’s classes, including the Broadway Youth Intro class, which will teach children ages four through six musical development and dance technique.

“There are a lot of new parents with young kids in the neighborhood and this is something new to offer them,” Lemieux said.

A Mommy and Me class will also be available.

This Wednesday, between 2 pm and 9 pm there will be an open house, where people can take a look at the facility and review the programs.

Lemieux said she has her master’s degree in singing and has performed for Cirque du Soleil, USO Liberty Bells and several other productions. She said that the other instructors have graduated from prestigious musical institutions. Many are still active on Broadway and Off-Broadway.

For more information, please click here.

Dance area

Dance area

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Upscale cafe/bar opens at Gantry Park Landing complex

LIC1-465x310

Sept. 28, By Christian Murray

Beans, Grapes and Leaves—an upscale coffee, tea and wine bar—opened Wednesday on the ground floor of the newly developed Gantry Park Landing complex at 2-14 50th Avenue.

The café offers premium coffee and tea–as well as four craft beers on tap and an extensive wine menu with more than 30 reds and 15 whites on offer. It also serves pastries and array of sandwiches.

“Think of a premium version of Starbucks with wine and beer,” said Simon Khan, the owner of the establishment, yesterday. “That is the concept and if it does well we will open other stores.”

Khan, a Sunnyside resident, is not new to the café business. He is a co-owner of Guy & Gallard, a company that has seven coffee /specialty food stores in Manhattan.

Khan said that he has been pleased with the reception Beans, Grapes and Leaves has received since opening. “This is our first weekend and people seem to like it.”

The café is the first of three commercial establishments to go into the Gantry Park Landing Complex.

Urban Market, a 7,500-square gourmet food store that will offer fresh meat and seafood, is expected to open by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, an urgent medical care center– North Shore-LIJ– is likely to open early 2015. It will be about 4,300 square feet in size.

The residential apartments in the building have all been leased. The 199 units went on the market in July, with rents starting at $1,875 for a studio, $2,450 for a one-bedroom and $3,250 for a two-bedroom.

Beans, Grapes and Leaves

Beans, Grapes and Leaves

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Italian group to hold procession along Vernon Blvd. Sunday, as piece of LIC history lives on

Italianevent

Sept. 25, By Christian Murray

A piece of old-world Italian tradition will be on display on Vernon Boulevard this Sunday.

Members of Societa Sant’ Amato Di Nusco, which is located at 47-39 Vernon Boulevard, will be holding their annual procession through the streets of Hunters Point. The members will carry a life-sized statue of their patron saint, Saint Amato, as they pay homage to him.

Saint Amato is believed to have lived in the town of Nusco, about 40 miles outside of Naples, during the 11th century. He was canonized following his death in September 1093.

The Societa was established in 1903 by immigrants from Nusco, and since then they have paid tribute to their patron saint on the last Sunday of September.

“This was a big tradition we brought with us from Nucso,” said Frank Stagliano, the club’s secretary. “He [Saint Amato] is like our home town boy.”

The club, which operated out of Long Island City church basements and meeting halls in its early years, bought its Vernon Boulevard building in 1959, Stagliano said. He said that the club today has about 150 to 200 members, with about one-quarter of them still living in Long Island City.

Stagliano said that all the members are all from Nusco or have ancestors from there.

The group was founded to help fellow immigrants make their way in America, at a time when there were no social services to help those in need.

Sunday’s procession is the biggest event on the club’s calendar. The event starts at the club at 10 am, with the procession beginning at 11:30 am. It is followed by a church service at St Mary’s at 1 pm.

The procession will incorporate sections of 11th Street, Vernon Boulevard, 47th Road, 47th Avenue, 48th Avenue and Center Boulevard.

Italianparade

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Demolition of 5 Pointz enters a new phase
Source: David Or

Source: David Orecchia (from Citibank building)

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray,

The demolition of 5 Pointz appears to be entering into a new phase as workers get ready to take down the main structure.

The low-rise warehouse complex at the rear of the building has gone and work has begun on demolishing the main area where artists would gather for events.

A small section within the central meeting area has already been destroyed and workers have brought in heavy machinery to start taking down the main structure.

5 Pointz Sept 24A

5 pOINT sEPT 24B

 

 

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Alobar and John Brown Smokehouse win coveted ‘Bib Gourmand’ award

Alobar

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray

The Michelin Guide has just released its 2015 “Bib Gourmand” picks and Alobar and John Brown Smokehouse (10-43 44th Drive) were among the picks for the best value for money.

These two restaurants were the only Long Island City restaurants to receive the highly-coveted prize. Restaurants are evaluated for excellence on a budget (defined as two courses and wine or dessert for $40 a head).

The Bib Gourmand restaurant winners are widely considered the best and most affordable restaurants in New York.

For the full list, please click here.

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Van Bramer’s hit-and-run bill is passed by the city council
Van Bramer, Maribel Egipciaco , Melissa Mark Viverito (Source: Bill Alatriste)

Van Bramer, Martha Puruncajas , Melissa Mark Viverito (Source: Bill Alatriste)

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray

The city council passed legislation yesterday that would fine drivers who flee the scene of an accident up to $10,000.

The Council voted 49-0 in favor of the legislation that was introduced by Jimmy Van Bramer following three hit-and-run deaths that have occurred in Western Queens in the past year.

“I am proud to have sponsored Intro 371, the ‘Justice for Hit and Run Victims Act,’” Van Bramer said in a statement. “I was moved to introduce this bill in response to the death of three people who were killed in my district by drivers who fled the scene.”

Last September, Luis Bravo, 19, was killed crossing Broadway in Woodside. Meanwhile, Karen Pheras, 20, was struck and killed around the same time crossing Queens Plaza North. Then in March, Martha Puruncajas, 64, was killed crossing Northern Boulevard in Long Island City.

“They all lost their lives because of the unconscionable actions of reckless drivers who showed no concern for the lives of these three people,” Van Bramer said. “We will never know if one or all of them could have been saved had the drivers done the right thing: stopped their car and called 911.”

All three drivers have yet to be caught.

“It’s something you never get over,” said Bravo’s mother, Maribel Egipciaco, at a recent council hearing.”The pain is unbearable, the pain stays,” she said, adding that she hopes stiffer penalties would prevent future tragedies.

Under the bill, those who leave the scene of an incident without taking action would be subject to pay a civil penalty of up to $500 if property damage stems from the incident; $1,000 to $2,000 if a person is injured; and $2,000 to $10,000 if there is serious injury or death.

Currently there are no “civil” penalties in New York City if someone flees.

Criminal penalties are determined by the state lawmakers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law. The law would take effect ninety days after he signs it.

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Modern Spaces opens second office in Astoria as development boom continues
Astoria location

Astoria location

Sept. 23, By Christian Murray

The real estate market is heating up in Astoria–and LIC-based Modern Spaces is looking to get in on more of the action.

Modern Spaces, which has its flagship office at 47-42 Vernon Boulevard, will be opening its second office in Astoria next month at 34-16 30th Avenue.

The new location will be much more substantial than its first Astoria office, which is in the Ditmars section of the neighborhood  at 29-20 23rd Avenue.

The 30th Avenue office will be 2,000 square feet, with room to house 25 agents. It will also include an outdoor garden space that can be used for events.

Modern Spaces, which was founded in Long Island City in 2008, will have six offices when its second Astoria office opens. It has offices in Williamsburg and Chelsea.

Eric Benaim, founder of Modern Spaces, said: “We are very happy to expand our Astoria reach with this new office, and are proud to be part of this community. The timing is opportune for us, as we have three new projects in Astoria that will be hitting the market early next year.”

Modern Spaces also announced that Greg Kyroglou, an Astoria resident who currently manages the firm’s Ditmars office, will head up the new office.

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