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Budget Brings Millions for Sunnyside/Woodside Parks, Schools and Some for Drag Queen Story Hour

via Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer/Twitter

June 20, 2019 By Christian Murray

The City Council passed the 2020 budget yesterday and millions has been allocated toward Sunnyside and Woodside parks, district schools, local cultural groups and libraries.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said that several parks in the district will be upgraded as part of the $92.8 billion budget.

“This was a big year for our parks,” Van Bramer said. “We were able to get a lot of funds,” he said, noting how the 2020 budget was “incredibly good” for the district.

He said that $2.5 million has been allocated to renovate the former Phipps Playground site at the corner of 39th Avenue and 50th Street; $1.5 million for the revamp of Sohncke Square in Woodside; $3.7 million to upgrade Rainey Park in Long Island City; and $1.3 million for Sixteen Oaks Grove, a park located in Dutch Kills.

Van Bramer said that the $2.5 million allocation to upgrade the former Phipps Playground—to be called Lt. Michael Davidson Playground, after a local firefighter killed in the line of duty last year– comes on top of a previous $3 million allocation to buy the property.

With the city close to acquiring the site, Van Bramer said the $2.5 million is needed to design and build it.

Foreground: Michael Davidson, who died at 37 after responding to a five-alarm fire in Harlem in 2018. Background: The former Phipps Playground site.

Van Bramer said that he was pleased to announce funding for the upgrade of Sohncke Square, located at 58th Street and Woodside Ave.

“This is a central and visible part of Woodside, right across from St. Sebastian’s. We have our annual Christmas Tree lighting there and I have noticed it hasn’t changed in decades. I want to see it beautified, where it will enhance the quality of life.”

The square will be upgraded to include new seating, gardens and a flag pole, among other features.

Van Bramer said that the funds to be spent on Rainey Park, located on Vernon Boulevard by 34th Avenue, will go toward improving the athletic fields, pathways and greening. Meanwhile the funds at Sixteen Oaks Grove have been allocated toward a new seating area, grass areas, among other items.

Van Bramer said that schools in the district will receive $2.5 million in additional funding this year. He said the funds are going toward tech upgrades, as well as a school yard renovation at P.S. 111Q and a new hydroponics science lab at P.S. 150Q, among other projects.

Van Bramer, who chair’s the Council’s Cultural Affairs and Libraries committee, said that the libraries fared well in the budget.

The three public library systems—Queens, Brooklyn and New York—were originally going to have their budgets slashed by a total of $16 million, which would have seen a reduction in hours, weekend service and staff.

Last week, however, Van Bramer and Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced that a deal had been reached with the mayor where there would in fact be an additional $33 million added to the library budget, which was $388 million in 2019. This is expected to lead to additional programs and better six-day service, Van Bramer said.

Drag Queen Hour via Queens Library

Some of the new items in the budget this year include funding for Drag Queen Story Hour and for holiday lights on 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside.

Van Bramer said that he had secured $5,000 for Drag Queen Story Hour, which will fund 10 story hours throughout the district.

He said the story hour program is growing in popularity and that he has heard from local libraries and parents requesting it.

He said that holiday lights will be coming to 43rd Avenue this year to help local businesses and brighten up the area.

For more details on Van Bramer’s allocations, click here.

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 

Seems sexists! So its fine to pay men dressing up as woman but what about woman who dress up as men. Why not Drag King hour? Or just Drag hour! These representatives should know better.


Another homophobe, why is this page filled with so many? Why not let them be, the kids like it, gives them something to do and integrates them into society. You don’t like it, move to Alabama


I’m a Lesbian and I grew up in Brooklyn! Moved to Sunnyside 5 years ago. Google Drag King! I stand by what I said. They should include females that dress up as men and call it Story Drag hour. There are many Drag Kings in the LGBT community.

Gardens Watcher

You have a point. Still not sure why this requires funding and is not done on a volunteer basis.

Happy Pride!

Face it and deal with it.

We only have a leader for our level. He is elected by our hand… just like a Trump.

Everyone represented

I’m interested to see when Van Bramer will schedule straight male story hour. You know just a normal nice straight male reading to kids.

Evelyn M

Yes straight males are constantly being sought out assaulted and even killed. Just enemies being bashed…Another Fox News brainstorm.

All story hours ever are already that

You just described all story hours ever. Sorry that JVB hurt your feelings.

Johnny Cakes

If you drive up Roosevelt, you could have a drag Queens read you a story for $40.


Wait! What?????????? Okay, no disrespect for my LGBTQ sisters and brothers out there, but…….there is a new library that JVB was instrumental in getting off the ground….that sits disgracefully half done at the waterfront in LIC. There are people who have needs in NYCHA, our homelessness problem needs funding, our local businesses are leaving quicker then flies flick to sh%$&*, due to crazy rents and no incentives for them to stay. Our parks are fine, stop renovating them (with the exception of the one on 39th Avenue and 50th Street that has been dormant for about 30 years and is being named in honor of a fallen firefighter and a beloved member of our community), and spending millions to do it. Finish the stuff you’ve started first. How about hiring an independent contractor to come and assess the bike lane situation for risks/benefits to our community? How about some public sewer clean-up, so when we have rain like yesterday, I don’t need a boat to get to the sidewalk? What about those potholes in the service lanes on Queens Boulevard from 58th Street to 50th Streets???? Just a few ways I’d love to see my hard earned $$ spent.


Instead of drag queen stories, how about tutoring for kids to achieve better grades on high school entrance exams

I love it when Trump-lovers pretend they care about indoctrination

That’s why you watch Fox News right? lmao


Drag Queen Story Hour- $5,000 / 10- 1 hour sessions
$500 per hour
JVB – you have total dis-respect for tax payer’s hard earned dollars
Let’s tell it like it is- the gay community is taking over NYC

Reply literally think it's spelled "dis-respect"

What did you mean by “tax payer’s,” just a single tax payer?! Lmao!


If someone wants to dress up and read to kids that’s up to the parents but why does it cost $5,000 and why is the gov paying?


All the businesses on 43d Avenue are closed down and you’re putting holiday lights up?


If the drag queen story hour is popular, I say fund it! That photo is pretty amazing.

Why no self respect and acceptance pride?

Amazingly scary. All due respect to her (?) This isn’t Greenwich village.


DRAG QUEEN STORY HOUR???? If that shit is pushed anywhere near my children there are going to be major complaints and lawsuits and those held personally accountable.

Story hours by non librarians should be volunteer only.

Didn’t say I didn’t agree with you. How does a drag queen need funding for yanking good night moon off of a shelf at the library?

Wow, imagine being this fragile

If that’s enough to hurt your feelings this may not be your city.

Oh, Lily

Isn’t that precious! Money for Drag Queen Story Hour! How about money for tutoring? Anyway, Jimmy will be back to shelving books in the library when he loses the borough president primary.


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