March 14, 2010 By Christian Murray
In 2008, Western Queens Power for the People helped ink a $63 million settlement on behalf of 100,000 residents in Sunnyside, Woodside, Astoria and Long Island City who were left without power for a week in July 2006.
Two years later, there is still one outstanding item that needs to be fulfilled – $7.9 million to be spent on green projects.
There were three main provisions contained within the 2008 agreement: Con Ed customers were not to face higher charges following the $46 million overhaul of the local grid; rebates of $100 per resident and up to $350 per business; and $7.9 million toward tree planting and environmental benefits.
This weekend, March 20 at the Sunnyside Community Center, residents will have their say on how the $7.9 million should be spent. Half must go toward planting trees, with the other half going toward a variety of different green programs. The following weekend, March 27 at the Greater Astoria Historical Society, another meeting will be held in Long Island City.
North Star Fund, a New York City community foundation, will be administering the fund. It is holding the meetings to see how residents want the funds to be spent.
“They will decide where the trees will go and what type of trees they will be,” said Alyssa Bonilla, a member of Western Queens Power for the People, the advocacy group that helped push Con Ed into reaching the settlement. North Star will have to keep a balance to ensure all the trees are not put in one neighborhood.
“North Star is just looking for ideas,” Bonilla said. “Some people might want community gardens, others solar projects. All ideas will be considered.”