24 THE QUEENS COURIER • JUNE 8, 2017 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM Local students & scientists get funding to continue work restoring Douglaston wetlands State Senate passes bill to require that MTA study lead hazards BY ANGELA MATUA firstname.lastname@example.org / @AngelaMatua A bill sponsored by Queens Senator Jose Peralta to study the amount of lead in elevated train tracks has passed the senate. Th e bill, which was introduced on April 28, passed unanimously on June 5 and is being considered in the Assembly. Aft er a local painters union found that paint chips falling from the elevated tracks on the 7 line contained extremely high levels of lead, Peralta introduced legislation along with Bronx Assemblyman Jeff rey Dinowitz that would require the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York City Transit Authority (NYCT) to conduct a study on lead paint on elevated subway tracks and stations throughout the city. District 9 International Union of Painters and Allied Trades found that the 52nd Street station in Jackson Heights contains more than 40 times the legal threshold of lead paint, which amounts to 224,000 parts per million of lead paint. Abatement is usually required when lead levels are higher than 5,000 parts per million, the union said. Th e bill requires the MTA and New York City Transit Authority to conduct State Senate passed a bill to require the MTA to study lead paint along elevated train tracks. a study that outlines how the MTA complies with the Clean Air Act and a report recommending how to proceed with lead paint abatement and how much it would cost. Th e study would be conducted along with the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health. “Th is proposal will help protect everyone from hazardous lead paint chips falling onto the street,” Peralta said. “We need to remove this dangerous problem from our aboveground subway lines.” According to a spokesperson for Peralta, the study would be completed by March 1, 2018. Th e report would be shared with the governor, temporary president of the Senate, speaker of the Photo via Shutterstock Assembly and the mayor. A spokesperson for the MTA previously told QNS that the lead levels cited by the union were above Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines for residential homes, which include a diff erent standard than outdoor elevated structures. “We don’t comment on pending legislation,” MTA Spokesperson Beth DeFalco said in a statement. “However, the safety of all our customers and the surrounding community is a top priority. Th e MTA has an aggressive repainting program across the entire system which includes proactively scraping and repainting our structures.” BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI email@example.com @smont76 Douglaston and Little Neck students, scientists and community stakeholders will continue work on an environmental restoration project thanks to funds allocated by a local lawmaker. State Senator Tony Avella presented a $120,000 grant to Th e Douglas Manor Environmental Association (DMEA) at Memorial Field on June 1 to help fund their long-term “Big Rock Wetland Restoration Project.” Th e project is part of a one-of-a-kind Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program which engages over 500 students at both P.S. 98 in Douglaston and M.S. 67 in Little Neck. Working in collaboration with their teachers and local scientists and engineers, the young learners get hands-on learning experience while working to improve their own neighborhoods. “We’ve been in the wetlands our whole life, so it’s exciting to see how it’s going to become a better place,” said James McGillick, a seventh-grader at M.S. 67. Taso Lampoutis, assistant principal at M.S. 67, said the program has had a tremendous impact on the students thus far, and that the school will be following the scientists’ progression every step of the way. “As the scientists collect additional scientifi c data, we’ll have more access to that information in the classroom, so that kids can continue to engage in that authentic STEM learning,” Lampoutis said. “And the wetlands are something near and dear to many of the students at our school ... Being aware of their community, their surroundings, the preservation of that environment — it’s just inherently important.” According to DMEA Wetlands Commission co-chairs Jaime Sutherland and Kevin Wolfe, Phragmites, an invasive, non-native species of reeds known to do well in polluted waters, has taken over at the site. One of the main undertakings of the project, they explained, would be removing the invasive grass and reinstating spartina grass — a species that fi lters water and allows clams, mussels, fi sh, horseshoe crabs and turtles to fl ourish. “As it’s going, we’re creating it,” Sutherland said. “It’s a work in progress.” Th e spartina grass also helps protect the location from storm surge, Wolfe continued. Th e grass acts as a sponge and protects the adjoining fi eld, as well as the nearby houses. “It’s more than just a restoration project; it’s doing multiple things,” Wolfe said. “And the great part of it is that the whole community is involved, from the schools through the residents. Plus, it’ll be a model for other communities in Queens who wish to protect their shoreline.” “Th is is a small area, but it can have a major impact,” Sutherland added. Avella wished the community luck in undertaking the project and spoke of the project’s reaching infl uence. “Th e project is a great collaboration with the state, the community and the schools,” Avella said. “And not only will it help restore the wetlands, but it will give a great educational experience to the students at both of the schools.” Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS Local nonprofi t receives $1,300 check to support its charitable operations Schneps Communications presented the When In Need (WIN) Foundation with a $1,300 check on June 6. Th e funds were raised through a raffl e at the 2017 Queens Power Women in Business Awards & Networking Event on May 18 at Flushing’s Terrace on the Park. Th e funding will help the Corona- and Philadelphia-based nonprofi t continue its mission to provide a helping hand to the most vulnerable and underserved people in the country and worldwide by providing food, clean water, medications Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS and other necessities. “We want this foundation to be larger than life,” founder and CEO Chetachi Ecton said. “At the end of our lives, it’s not about what we have, it’s about who we helped.” Learn more by visiting their website at winfound.org.
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