Lani Luv represents Queens in new music video

Lani Luv of Queens and Boujee Baby from Houston collaborated on a new hip-hop song “How We Do It.” They will be releasing the music video on August 12.

“In the music video we have a lot of landmarks throughout the city,” said Lani Luv. “For example, from Queens we included the A Tribe Called Quest mural, from Brooklyn we featured the Biggie Smalls mural, and for Manhattan we filmed at Times Square.”

The two young artists met on Instagram and it led to their collaboration. “I saw her music video, her style, and she is very versatile,” said the 12-year-old Lani Luv. “It was really fun to work with her.”

The song is infused with Lani Luv’s New York swag and the ten-year-old Boujee Baby’s Houston screw tones. The two launched a campaign on Instagram asking fans to sshare their own videos with the hashtag #howyoudoit

“The inspiration behind the song is to showcase how I do things especially since I am a kid rapper and there aren’t many out there,” said Lani Luv. Lani Luv has been rapping since she was seven years old. She is working on her first E.P.

“My biggest supporter is my family, but specifically my little sister and my mom,” Lani Luv.

Proposal for New School a Bad Idea

When is the proposal for a new school and playground not a good idea? When they are proposed for the wrong location without real community input, located on a narrow street creating a traffic nightmare, and being rushed through for approval at the end of a political term.
The proposal by the School Construction Authority (SCA) for a new school at 24th Avenue and Waters Edge Drive in Bay Terrace in northeastern Queens is significantly flawed. It comes at the end of this mayoral administration and months before a new City Council member for the district can take office.
First and foremost, SCA should put this proposal on hold until a new mayor and council member can fully evaluate whether a new school is needed in this specific neighborhood.
Only a few blocks away, P.S. 169 is already under construction, adding over 600 additional seats. I also understand that presently PS 169 has seats available.
The proposed new school site itself is on a narrow road with no parking. The street filters onto Bell Boulevard exactly at the entrance to the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, already a congested intersection.
Adding school buses and parents dropping off and picking up their children will only further exacerbate a crowded traffic situation.
The land is an historic landfill with possible underground contaminants, and may also include wetlands. These conditions should necessitate a full environmental impact statement before any possible negotiations with the property owner should begin.
Which SCA clearly will not do. The SCA can even beginning the process of purchasing this site without fully investigating these conditions is fiscally irresponsible.
The adjoining proposal for a new playground across the street seems to have been made solely to bolster the argument for the school, providing a few parking spots and a playground for the school children.
Unfortunately, the playground proposal also is short sighted for the same reasons as the school. This is the dead end of 24th Avenue, again creating a dangerous traffic situation for future park users.
Given its proposed location, a deserted dead-end street with little to no visibility, it can only become a potential late-night hangout.
I applaud the inclusion of $20 million in the city budget for construction of this playground, but not its location.
A much better location is nearby Little Bay Park and Fort Totten, which is much more accessible to residents of Bay Terrace and surrounding communities. That site has a large parking lot and a wonderful comfort station and is accessible by city bus.
Parks officials have long sought additional funding for Little Bay Park and Fort Totten. The $20 million would be a boom for both parks and create a more utilized and safer new playground.
Another reason against the proposed playground location is that although the lot on Waters Edge Drive and 24th Avenue is parkland, it currently is and has been for decades used by the Bay Terrace Country Club as a parking lot for the pool club. Taking away this parking lot would doom the club. The club has stated it has a 99-year lease on this property and obviously would contest the lease being vacated.
The club has been a great resource for Bay Terrace and Queens for over six decades, and it would be a tremendous loss for everyone if should have to close because of the loss of parking.
In addition, in the middle of both sites is a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sewage pumping station with facilities underneath and on the street and sidewalk.
I understand that only this week was DEP made aware of these proposals. Did no one bother to check what issues are present on these sites? Does it make sense to build a school and playground immediately adjacent to a sewage, odor producing, pumping station? Of course not!
For all of these reasons I oppose the new school and the location for the playground.
What should be done, and done immediately, is to put the school proposal on hold until a new mayor and council member have a chance to review its location and its need in this neighborhood.
The SCA should work together with local elected officials, the community board and residents to find an appropriate site that would better serve the children. SCA should turn away from dictating its proposals to working and collaborating with stakeholders.
The proposed playground should also be given a second look and relocated to Little Bay/Fort Totten. Let’s build the playground where everyone can enjoy it and at the same time allow the pool club to continue to serve the community.
To join with me, sign the petition.

Tony Avella is the Democratic candidate for the 19th District in the City Council.

Plan Ahead & Get Vaccinated Before School Starts

In early July, we were elated to welcome students to classrooms for Summer Rising, the city’s free summer academic and enrichment program. Children were clearly excited to be back with their teachers and friends, and those feelings have only grown over the past few weeks.
In an elementary school in East Harlem, youngsters proudly displayed the solar-powered ovens they’d built to cook s’mores. In a school in Chinatown, students gasped with joy over the “magical” science experiments performed by Jason Latimer of YouTube’s Impossible Science channel.
And in a school in the Bronx, students dove into their lessons and demonstrated an outdoor mindfulness activity.
Experiences like these are reflected in the smiles of hundreds of thousands of children who are in school to learn, play, connect, and grow this summer. Both children and their parents are grateful to have this bridge to the next school year.
We see the first day of school – Monday, September 13 – as a homecoming. In fact, it comes shortly after NYC Homecoming Week, a five-borough celebration of the city’s resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we think ahead to the fall, the health and safety of students and school communities are at the forefront of our planning. We are asking New Yorkers to help with a crucial part of this work: get vaccinated.
The vaccine for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 involves a two-dose regimen, and it takes two weeks from the second shot for someone to be considered fully vaccinated. So, think of this as your doctor’s orders: Schedule your vaccine today if you have not already.
Safely and fully reopening schools this fall is a milestone for our city, and we are eager to see students back in their school communities. We are doing everything in our power to create a safe learning environment, from disinfecting every school, to re-configuring classrooms and improving ventilation, to stocking up on face masks and hand sanitizer.
And last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that school staff must show a one-time proof of vaccination or weekly COVID-19 tests. The new requirement recognizes that the single most important way we can help our children go back to learning, and save lives, is with vaccination.
As parents ourselves, we know the decision to vaccinate is important, and we would do anything to protect our children. The vaccine is safe and very effective. Over 250,000 young New Yorkers have now gotten the shot.
At school, vaccination allows children to be in the classroom, participate in afterschool activities and sports, and gather with friends safely. It also provides a more stable learning environment. For example, students who are considered fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine.
Getting the shot has never been easier in New York City. Access to vaccination is widely available in all five boroughs, and the city is offering a new $100 incentive for anyone (including children) who gets their first dose at a city-run site.
Nearly all New Yorkers live within a half-mile of a public vaccination site, and everyone is eligible to request and receive at-home vaccination.
Pediatricians and other health care providers can also help answer questions, and many are able to give the COVID-19 vaccine at a back-to-school check-up, along with other routine immunizations. If you need a provider, call 1-844-NYC-4NYC and you will be transferred.
We’re so excited to welcome all New York City students back into classrooms in September. Because of vaccination, our buildings will soon be fully open and our young people will be learning. We deeply appreciate the partnership of the city’s families and the commitment to keeping our school communities safe and healthy.

Meisha Porter is chancellor of the Department of Education and Dr. Dave Chokshi, is commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Fixes and changes to BQE finally announced

After years of discussion and studies, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Transportation (DOT) finally announced a comprehensive plan to repair and modify the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE).
The four-part plan is particularly focused on reducing truck traffic and pollution, and is designed to preserve and improve elevated sections of the roadway for at least another 20 years.
“We have the technology, the ideas, and the expertise to save the BQE, and we’re excited to execute this plan, but that’s just the start,” de Blasio said in a statement last week. “New York City can do more than patch up a highway in need of repair, we can use this opportunity to rethink how people, goods, and services move around our city.”
Calls for a new BQE master plan have been in circulation for decades now. In 2019, a group of politicians led by Comptroller Scott Stringer penned an open letter to the Mayor demanding more action on the issue.
“Today’s announcement to scale back the BQE, as I have long advocated, is a positive first step toward ending the harmful legacy of this roadway and finally creating the flexibility and space to comprehensively reimagine a pedestrian-friendly transit and infrastructure network for the future,” said Comptroller Scott Stringer.
In early 2020, the city organized a special panel to research potential solutions, during which transportation experts suggested measures to lessen the weight of vehicles, specifically trucks, travelling on the BQE.
The panel focused primarily on preserving crumbling sections in Downtown Brooklyn and South Brooklyn.
The mayor’s announcement last week finally made these suggestions a reality. Starting this year, the city will implement “weigh-in-motion” technology that will monitor the weight of trucks travelling on the decaying expressway.
Additionally, the NYPD will increase weight enforcement to further protect vulnerable sections of the BQE cantilever.
On a specifically problematic half-mile of road between Atlantic Avenue and the Brooklyn Bridge, DOT plans on shifting lane markers down from three to two in both directions to alleviate weight. Work on these lane changes will commence on August 30.
Along the entire stretch of the BQE, the DOT will implement new water filtration systems to avoid further water damage.
In addition to changes on the BQE itself, the mayor urged the city to invest in alternative forms of freight transportation to lessen the burden placed on the elevated roadway. De Blasio has instructed city agencies to research supply chain solutions, including incentivised off-hour deliveries, freight consolidation, rail and boat transportation, and cargo bike deliveries.
For longtime advocates of a BQE redesign, last week’s news was cause for celebration.
“Extending the useful life of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, while ensuring the safety of drivers and passengers of vehicles that use the roadway, will allow time for the city, state, and federal governments to develop a long-term approach to this critical route that reflects New York’s evolving transportation needs and better serves the communities along the BQE corridor,” said State Senator Brian Kavanaugh, who has been pushing for BQE renovations for close to a decade.
The Cobble Hill Association has pushed for changes to the roadway for years, thanks in part to memories of the area’s partial destruction in the mid-20th century to make way for the roadway. Neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn were torn asunder to facilitate the construction of the BQE, displacing large numbers of Norwegian and Italian immigrants in Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, and beyond.
“Across the nation, the destructive effects of urban highways are being recognized and addressed,” a spokesperson from the Cobble Hill Association said. “The transformation of the BQE, one of New York City’s most decrepit and polluting transportation corridors, is of critical importance to the future of our city.
“The planning to reverse the negative environmental, economic, and public health impacts of the BQE must begin now, and we will hold the city to its commitment to move forward immediately,” they added. “The mayor’s announcement is an important step in the right direction.”

Redistricting Commission holds hearings in Queens, Brooklyn

senate, and assembly districts with the help of residents.
To coordinate such a huge task, the New York Independent Redistricting Commission is holding a series of hearings throughout the state to gather input.
The redistricting process traditionally happens every ten years after the Census count, and has long been subject to the whims of partisan policymakers. This has resulted in oddly shaped districts that divide communities, gerrymandered to favor the candidates of a political party.
However, a referendum was passed by New York State voters in 2014 that created a new Independent Redistricting Commission to replace the partisan process. Composed of five Democrats and five Republicans, the commission will take into account the information gathered from hearings and propose new districts that, in theory, will be less politically motivated.
The commission is expected to propose new district maps before the end of the month.
The commission recently held hearings in Queens and Brooklyn. Lasting multiple hours, the hearings were attended by a large number of New Yorkers who highlighted gerrymandered, problematic, and ineffective districting throughout the boroughs.

The Queens hearing received input from residents from Astoria to the Rockaways, however a few areas were mentioned multiple times because of their clearly poor district maps.
The districts that include Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens, and other nearby neighborhoods received the most attention for the way the district lines divide communities.
Speakers discussed the ways that Asian, Black, Indian, and Latinx communities are particularly disenfranchised by the current district maps.
“The area from the Van Wyck Expressway all the way down to Nassau County is not just a road, it is the spine of a community,” explained John P. Albert, who testified at the hearing on behalf of the nonprofit organization Taking Our Seat. “It is home to a significant Indian American population that is split among three assembly districts.”
Maria Calfer, a Taiwanese immigrant and mother from Forest Hills, echoed a similar sentiment.
“There is a very active and vibrant civic community in Central Queens, but my neighbors and I have found it hard and at times disenfranchising to engage in politics,” she said. “We are represented by four different state senators, but only one of them has an office in central Queens.”
After the hearing, some Muslim residents expressed anger that the hearing was held during Eid al-Adha, a major holiday that lasts multiple days. The commission will continue to accept testimony from residents online through the middle of August.

Like Queens, the Brooklyn hearing featured testimony from residents throughout the borough but clearly highlighted a few key areas.
Primarily, residents spoke of the need to change districts in the southern half of Brooklyn, an area that at points even shares representation with Staten Island across the Narrows.
For example, the neighborhood of Sunset Park is currently divided among four different state senate districts, dividing the area’s growing Asian population and preventing them from having a cohesive voice in government.
L. Joy Williams, a representative from the Brooklyn branch of the NAACP, explained how similarly poor districting affects Black communities throughout the borough, particularly in and around Flatbush.
“The communities of African descent are diverse in Brooklyn, but well connected,” she said. “Our districts should reflect that.”
Residents testifying during the Brooklyn hearing directly called out partisan gerrymandering as the root of the problem, pointing to obtuse maps that were intended to favor Republican candidates.
“There is a pro-Republican bias in the New York Senate map, especially in Brooklyn,” said Martin Asher, an attorney testifying during the hearing. “This is clear partisan gerrymandering that does not benefit residents.”
State Senator Andrew Gounardes, who represents an oddly drawn southern Brooklyn district that includes parts of Bay Ridge, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach and Flatbush, offered his own comments separate from the hearing.
“With the population density of Brooklyn being what it is, there’s no reason why my district would extend from the Narrows waterfront all the way to Flatbush Avenue, but cut out about half the population that lives in between that span,” he said.

Guest rooms joins gaming rooms at RWNYC

Resorts World New York City (RWNYC) has officially opened the Hyatt Regency JFK, a new 400-room hotel located next to the casino.
The eight-story hotel features restaurants, fitness center, and conference space next to Aqueduct Racetrack.
Dave Fuego, a spokesperson from Resorts World and the emcee of Friday’s event, spoke about the casino’s long road to opening during the pandemic.
“In just over a year, we were able to transform this lot into what you see before you today,” said Dave Fuego of RWNYC at a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday. “New York is not coming back, New York is back.”
Genting American East president Bob DeSalvio, who oversees operation in Queens and as well as a casino in the Catskills, highlighted the 10th anniversary of RWNYC and the recent opening of a new casino in Las Vegas earlier this ummer.
“There is no better way to celebrate Resorts World’s 10th anniversary than with the opening of this world-class hotel,” he said. “While the hotel has always been part of our vision, today’s ribbon cutting takes on additional significance as we celebrate the Queens community and do our part to move New York forward.”
Borough President Donovan Richards said the new jobs – the hotel is expected to create over 1,000 of them – and other opportunities will help the Queens economy recover from the pandemic.
“Queens is back in business,” Richards said, “and what better way to bounce back from the pandemic than bringing new jobs. We are not just looking to get back to normal, but to something better than normal.
“We are not just talking about jobs, we are talking about good jobs that offer people upwards mobility,” he added. “Manhattan is a thing of the past, come spend your money in Queens.”
State Seantor Joseph Addabbo, who chairs the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering, guaranteed that Resorts World will get a full gaming license from the state to loud applause.
“Resorts World is not just a symbol, they are in the weeds of the community,” Addabbo said. “They are at the street festivals and all the local parades.”

Task force focused on College Point streets

Slow but steady improvements have been coming to College Point thanks to increased communication between government agencies and a new task force created buy the Borough President’s Office.
A primary focus of the College Point Task Force has been the repaving of neighborhood streets that were tore up as part of a sewer project.
Residents were told the streets wouldn’t be repaved until the project was done and that it would take two-and-a-half years. Five years later, the project remains incomplete and the streets remain untouched.
“If you look at Community Board 7, they’re all typically areas that tend to have more money and more influence,” said Jennifer Shannon, a member of the task force and president of A Better College Point Civic Association. “If you drive through their neighborhoods, for the most part, their streets look really good. You drive through College Point, you really feel like you’re driving through a wartorn country.”
Shannon and her civic association member finally got the attention of Borough President Donovan Richards.
The taks force consists of representatives of the Borough President’s Office, Con Edison, department of Design and Construction, Environmental Protection and Transportation, and three residents.
So far, a number of construction sites have been cleaned up, but none of the streets have been repaved. Shannon praised the increased communication between the agencies, but acknowledges that there is still much to be done in the community.
“They said they were going to start the restoration, probably a month back, and I don’t even really think they started at all,” said Shannon. “We’ll be happy once we see them actually following through completely.”

Residents rally against Kew Gardens Prison

Opponents of a plan to build a new jail news to Borough Hall in Kew Gardens protested near the site last week.
This jail is part of a plan to replace Rikers Island Prison with four smaller jails in every borough but Staten Island.
Rikers Island has a notorious reputation of overpopulation and abuse. Stories of corrupt officers and inhumane treatment of inmates compelled Mayor Bill de Blasio to introduce a plan that would close the city’s largest prison.
According to the original 2018 plan, Rikers Island is supposed to close by 2027. Replace the complex are the four jails, which will cost $8.7 billion.
The project was delayed in October of 2020, and now with de Blasio ending his term as mayor, the path forward is becoming increasingly unclear.
Many Queens residents were displeased with the plan even before it was approved, mainly because the jail would be near businesses, homes, and schools.
“It’s not safe because all the kids walk to school,” said Yan Ling, a Middle Village resident and parent. “We already have ten homeless centers in this area. They already harass young kids, imagine you have more inmates here.”
Residents fear the prisons will result in more criminals on the streets.
“Skyscraper jails don’t work,” said Councilman Robert Holden of the current design. “How do you evacuate the population in case of a fire or some other problem? And can you offer enough space to actually have a gym or recreational space?”
Holden argued the jails at Rikers Island should be restored instead of building new ones.
“Instead of closing Rikers, how about rebuilding Rikers?” he said. “Make it a state-of-the-art correctional facility with a mental health facility. And how about a court on the island to actually speed up some of the hearings?”

City’s precincts host National Night Out events

The 76 police precincts in New York City celebrated National Night Out Against Crime on August 3. The nationwide program is meant to help police departments forge relationships with the communities they serve.
Sixteen precincts in Queens organized events in parks and public spaces throughout the borough, including an event in Sunnyside’s Lou Lodati Park organized by the 108th Precinct.
“This is a great way to show our care for the community,” said Colin Hicks, a volunteer from the Queens District Attorney’s office. “I think [Queens District Attorney] Melinda Katz says it really well. She doesn’t want your first interaction with her to be when you are in trouble.”
“It’s nice for everyone to see the police officers,” said Joanna Carbona, a volunteer with the 108th Precinct. “Officers also give out their numbers so people can access them more easily. Not all of the information is online, so it’s easier to just grab numbers right now.”
Maspeth and Middle Village Councilman Robert Holden attended multiple Night Out events in Queens. He spoke about the importance of police work and community engagement.
“This is very important, now more than ever with crime on the rise,” Holden said. “It’s good to remind people that police are a partner to the community.”

City’s precincts host National Night Out events

The 76 police precincts in New York City celebrated National Night Out Against Crime on August 3. The nationwide program is meant to help police departments forge relationships with the communities they serve.
Sixteen precincts in Queens organized events in parks and public spaces throughout the borough, including an event in Sunnyside’s Lou Lodati Park organized by the 108th Precinct.
“This is a great way to show our care for the community,” said Colin Hicks, a volunteer from the Queens District Attorney’s office. “I think [Queens District Attorney] Melinda Katz says it really well. She doesn’t want your first interaction with her to be when you are in trouble.”
“It’s nice for everyone to see the police officers,” said Joanna Carbona, a volunteer with the 108th Precinct. “Officers also give out their numbers so people can access them more easily. Not all of the information is online, so it’s easier to just grab numbers right now.”
Maspeth and Middle Village Councilman Robert Holden attended multiple Night Out events in Queens. He spoke about the importance of police work and community engagement.
“This is very important, now more than ever with crime on the rise,” Holden said. “It’s good to remind people that police are a partner to the community.”

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