By Christian Murray
Jimmy Van Bramer, who is the Democratic candidate for the District 26 council seat, continues to face the same thorny questions from voters that he heard during his hard-fought primary campaign.
“People want to know what can be done about graffiti and parking problems,” Van Bramer said. “They have questions about our parks and beautifying some of the space.”
Van Bramer, if elected, said he would try and combat graffiti on a grass roots level, consider introducing resident stickers for local residents and create further park space, which might include the creation of a Central Park-type space at Sunnyside Yards.
Van Bramer said he is a strong supporter of groups such as the Sunnyside United Neighborhood Network, which is made up of about 100 volunteers who clean up graffiti on the northern side of Queens Blvd.
“We must push for a comparable group on the southern side of Queens Blvd—perhaps through United Forties—or the creation of a whole new group. I’m going to be actively involved in this.”
The Democrat did say he was pleased by the council’s passage of a recent bill that would make it easier for the city to clean up graffiti. That bill, he said, if signed by the mayor, would allow the city to clean up graffiti after 50 days, unless the property owner expressly wants the graffiti to stay.
Another issue Sunnysiders want rectified is the” parking crunch,” he said. Many non-residents drive to the neighborhood, park their cars and then take the No. 7 train into work. “It’s upsetting a lot of residents, so I will be taking a serious look to alleviate the parking problem.” One idea, he said, is to create a “resident parking sticker.”
Many Sunnyside residents want more park space. Van Bramer said he wants to expand the amount of park/green space in Sunnyside and District 26 as a whole. He is considering turning vacant, undeveloped lots into community garden areas or small parks. He even suggested some empty lots on 43rd Street (btwn, Skillman and 43rd Ave.) that are worth considering.
But he does not plan to bring about change to Sunnyside’s existing parks in the short term–referring to Sunnyside’s Thomas P. Noonan Playground (Greenpoint and 47th Aves, 43rd) and the Lou Ladati Playground (Skillman Ave and 43rd St).
He said he would review their current use–and potentially best use— in the long term. This also would include landscaping issues. For now, he just wants them to be better maintained.
Van Bramer’s Republican Rival
Van Bramer will be running against Angelo Maragos, a Republican who has the odds stacked against him in this Democratic city.
Nevertheless, Maragos is very visible and active. A major issue that Maragos is running on is bringing rent rebates and low-interest loans to struggling businesses. He argues that many businesses in District 26—which includes Woodside, Astoria and Long Island city— are struggling.
Van Bramer agrees that the poor economy is taking a toll on local businesses. However, he said, rent rebates and low-interest loans are not the answer. He said his focus will be on making it easier for businesses to get the permits they need expeditiously, and to protect them against excessive fines.
Van Bramer, who beat Democratic Party favorite Deirdre Feerick in the primary, is now readying himself for Maragos. He said, “I take all of my opponents seriously and will continue to talk to voters just as I did in the primary.”