Michael N.

Revitalize Astoria
Update 2003

Dear Neighbors:

I am happy to update you about our progress since I announced my Revitalize Astoria campaign last year. The campaign includes a series of investments for which I obtained funding from the State Assembly to improve our quality of life and boost economic development in western Queens.

Since last year, my Revitalize Astoria campaign brought a number of initiatives to fruition. This year holiday shoppers will notice the new antique street lights on Steinway Street, Broadway and 30th Avenue. If you visited Ralph DeMarco Park this spring, I am sure you couldn’t help but notice the array of flowers that were planted as part of my Revitalize Astoria campaign.

Please read on to learn more about my efforts to improve the quality of life in western Queens.

As always, feel free to contact my office if you have any comments or questions at
(718) 545-3889.

Sincerely yours,

Michael N. Gianaris
Member of Assembly

Astoria Boulevard Relieved of Truck Traffic

Trucks Allowed on Grand Central Parkway
Between Triboro Bridge and Brooklyn Queens Expressway

Photos by Domenick Totino

Assemblymember Michael Gianaris joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Helen Marshall and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. to announce the traffic changes near the entrance to the Triboro Bridge.
Truck traffic on Astoria Boulevard has plagued our community for decades. Rules prohibiting commercial traffic from using the Grand Central Parkway forced hundreds of trucks per day to use Astoria Boulevard to travel between the Triboro Bridge and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

For years, our community was unable to achieve a change in this traffic pattern…until now. Immediately after his election, Assemblymember Michael Gianaris put his efforts into relieving Astoria residents from the noise and safety concerns related to this situation. As a result of a series of meetings that were held with officials to assess the
For years, our community was unable to achieve a change in this traffic pattern…until now.
massive traffic problem, the Department of Transportation (DOT) agreed to institute a pilot program that will allow 70% of truck traffic to remain on the Grand Central Parkway and stay off of Astoria Boulevard. The program began on November 17th.

"I’m pleased that we were finally able to accomplish this long sought-after goal," said Assemblymember Gianaris. "I am determined to continue to make a difference in reducing congestion on our residential streets and improving safety for residents."

Assemblymember Gianaris, in forcing the issue with DOT, was instrumental in resolving this major traffic issue in Astoria. Through repeated meetings and consultations with the necessary state and city officials, he was able to win this battle that had eluded our neighborhood for so long.

"Keeping these trucks off local streets will improve safety and reduce noise levels in the neighborhood," said Assemblymember Gianaris.

Revitalizing Our Parks

This year, Assemblymember Michael Gianaris introduced a new initiative as part of his Revitalize Astoria campaign: "Revitalize Our Parks." The effort to preserve and expand our parks includes the planting of new flower beds in our existing parks and the creation of entirely new parks in our community.

Already, local residents teamed up with the Partnership for Parks to beautify Ralph DeMarco Park on Shore Boulevard between Ditmars Boulevard and 20th Avenue. Further efforts are also planned.

"I am happy to extend the Revitalize Astoria campaign from our commercial strips to our treasured park lands," said Gianaris. "I look forward to continuing my efforts to enhance and expand available parks in western Queens."

Assemblymember Gianaris and Gloria DeMarco Aloise, daughter of Ralph DeMarco, are joined by volunteers to plant flowers in Ralph DeMarco Park as part of Assemblymember Gianaris’ Revitalize Our Parks Initiative.
Parklands are a valuable part of our urban landscape. Not only do parks add to the beauty of a neighborhood, they play a role in improving air quality and cleaning the environment.

"I gladly rolled up my sleeves to dig in and plant new life in our parks," said Assemblymember Gianaris.

Assemblymember Gianaris also secured funding for a brand new park in Astoria Heights. The new green space will be located on 76th Street and 21st Avenue and will be named Carlos Lillo Park, in honor of an EMS worker from Astoria who perished during the World Trade Center attacks.

On the Brief Side:

Queens Clean Air Project
Assemblymember Gianaris and local leaders announced a new joint venture called the Queens Clean Air Project. Through this project, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) will provide $2 million for local projects designed to improve the air quality in western Queens. This new project is part of the settlement to close the NYPA Poletti Power plant, which for years has been the most polluting plant in all of New York City and was the subject of numerous calls by Assemblymember Gianaris to shut the plant and improve Queens’ air quality.

The $2 million allocation was included at the insistence of local leaders concerned with decreasing pollution in Queens. The Queens Clean Air Project will allow the community to play a major decision-making role in determining which projects are best to clean our air.

Benches on 31st Street Fixed
The broken benches on 31st Street off of Ditmars Boulevard were repaired this year so shoppers, especially seniors, can utilize the seats to rest while shopping. Assemblymember Gianaris is working closely with Astoria Restoration Association to install seat dividers that will prevent loiterers from sprawling across, and sleeping on, an entire bench.

Port Authority Deal
Maintains Local Control of Airports

Assemblymember Gianaris put his foot down when New York City officials offered to transfer to the Port Authority ownership of our rights over the land where LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports sit. The city had attempted to swap the 5,610 acres of land that the airports occupy for a mere 16 acres of land in lower Manhattan. In the end, due to pressure from Assemblymember Gianaris and others, the city and the Port Authority agreed on a new lease that benefits Queens residents. The agreement will yield tens of millions of dollars each year for New York City and give our community a new voice in the management of our airports.

"It was clear from the start that the proposed land swap was a horrible real estate deal," said Assemblymember Gianaris. "There was no way I was going to let the little control that residents have over the airports fly out of our hands."

"There was no way I was going to let the little control that residents have over the airports fly out of our hands."
Earlier this year, Assemblymember Gianaris worked to pressure negotiators to prevent the land swap. He co-sponsored legislation to prevent any sale or exchange of the land occupied by New York City’s two major airports and refused to allow the city to simply hand over control of a tenth of Queens County’s usable land to an authority" half-controlled by New Jersey with a history of troubled relations with its surrounding community.

"It is essential that Queens residents have a voice in the decision making process for the airports located in our communities, and we certainly deserve compensation for the detrimental effects of airport activities on our quality of life," said Assemblymember Gianaris. "This deal is an important step towards renewing our relationship with the Port Authority."

The Port Authority currently pays $3.5 million per year for the lease on the airport properties. The new deal will increase the lease payment to $93 million per year, as well as an initial payment of $700 million and an additional $50 million specifically for Queens capital projects. The agreement also calls for the establishment of a joint Airport Board that will provide city officials with influence on standards, operations and performance.

Astoria residents know all too well that although relations have improved between the Port Authority and the community, the relationship is far from perfect. Assemblymember Gianaris fought to get more input for residents instead of giving the authority a free pass to take actions that are harmful to local neighborhoods.

Antique Street Lights Installed in Time For Holidays

Assemblymember Gianaris is happy to announce that the antique streetlights for which he obtained state funds were installed on 30th Avenue, Steinway Street, and Broadway as part of his Revitalize Astoria campaign. The Assemblyman’s streetlight project is designed to create a friendly atmosphere that will attract more shoppers to the major commercial strips of Astoria.

"One of the major goals of this initiative is to make Astoria a destination for shoppers, a place where visitors can find fantastic bargains, great food and a bright atmosphere," said Gianaris. "This project will assist the many wonderful small businesses in the neighborhood, and in turn, will help to boost our local economy."

Assemblymember Gianaris noted that he has also obtained funding for antique street lights on Ditmars Boulevard that will be installed later this year.

Efforts to Clean Up Graffiti Successful

The 114th Precinct, Community Anti Crime Agency and local volunteers worked together with Assemblymember Gianaris to clean up graffiti at the PS 122 handball court.
Assemblymember Michael Gianaris made graffiti vandalism a prime target in his Revitalize Astoria campaign. He repeatedly organized residents and local organizations to clean up graffiti in western Queens. Most recently, Assemblymember Gianaris sponsored an effort that brought together the 114th Precinct, NY Anti-Crime Agency and several volunteers to paint over a number of eyesores in our community.

"We are sending the message that graffiti will not be tolerated in our community and that vandals will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Assemblymember Gianaris firmly stated. "My efforts to keep graffiti out of our neighborhood is an ongoing element in my Revitalize Astoria campaign."

Assemblymember Gianaris works with residents to ensure that reports of graffiti are addressed. Recently, he worked with the 114th Precinct to address one complaint that promptly led to the arrest of the vandal who had committed the crime.

"I encourage residents and business owners to call and report graffiti problems in their area," Assemblymember Gianaris urged. "We have to work together to improve our quality of life."

Michael N.

Room 432 LOB
Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-5014

21-77 31st Street, Suite 107
Astoria, New York 11105
(718) 545-3889