July 6, 2012 By Christian Murray
The New York City budget agreement not only ensured the continuation of after-school programs and library services, it also included a number of items that will help improve the Sunnyside and Woodside areas.
Many neighborhood groups were the recipient of city funds, while other funds were directed toward city services that will be used to upgrade neighborhood parks and clean streets.
“It was a good news budget for Sunnyside and Woodside,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “We saw some enormous victories.”
Van Bramer said his biggest victory was in helping to restore $150 million for the after-school and child-care programs. There were 10 separate after-school programs in his district that faced the axe, including those at PS 150, PS 199, PS 11, IS 125 and PS 12. The 10 programs, which cater to 1,700 children, were all saved.
“I wasn’t surprised these programs were restored,” Van Bramer said. “I made it an absolute priority,” he added. “I went to all those rallies and spoke to every person I needed too. The [Council] Speaker knows how passionate I am and my commitment to education.”
Meanwhile, Van Bramer, who is the council chairman of the cultural affairs and libraries committee, said he was pleased that he was able to help restore over $140m to libraries and arts in the budget.
The mayor had proposed cutting $26.7 million from the Queens Library system’s 2013 budget, which would have led to 600 layoffs across the borough and branch closures. However, most of the funds have been restored as part of the deal and the Sunnyside branch will remain open six days per week and the Woodside branch five days per week.
“The libraries were not going to close under my watch,” Van Bramer said, who was the head of external affairs at the Queens Public Library prior to being a councilman.
Van Bramer was able to allocate city funds for the following:
- $650,000 for phase 2 of Noonan Playground, as he continues to restore the park for local residents. While Phase 1 deals with upgrading the playground & sprinkler system (which includes erecting a plaque in honor of Thomas Noonan) , phase 2 will involve redoing the park house and bathroom, doing work on the basketball court and adding greenery.
- $250,000 for improvements to Doughboy Park in Woodside, including an upgrade to the dog run.
- $250,000 to reduce the amount of pigeon droppings under the No. 7 train at the 46th, 52nd and 61st Street subway stations. The MTA will put in place mitigation systems that include spiking, sound-based deterrents as well as low-voltage wire. These systems do not hurt the birds.
- $600,000 for a new roof at the Sunnyside Library.
- $200,000 for security cameras that will be distributed throughout Sunnyside, Woodside and LIC.
- $40,000 to the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.
- $3,500 to Sunnyside Shines.
- $40,000 to Woodside on the move.
- Sunnyside Community Service $80,000.
- Funds to cultural centers such as $7,500 to Thalia Spanish Theater.
- Sunnyside/Woodside Boys & Girls Club and $5,000
- Sunnyside Drum Corp $3,500.
- Northern Woodside Coalition Inc. $3,500.
- Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance, Inc., $3,500.
- Van Bramer allocated funds to the “Doe Fund” in Woodside. The fund will be used to hire a maintenance team to clean up along Roosevelt Ave and 61st Street and surrounding streets.