4 THE QUEENS COURIER • OCTOBER 1, 2015 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.queenscourier.com Astoria dog run receives $1M in funding BY ANGELA MATUA firstname.lastname@example.org @angelamatua Astoria’s four-legged friends will soon have a park to call their own. Elected offi cials gathered under the Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) Bridge last week to announce the allocation of $1 million to build an offi cial dog park in the neighborhood. The park, which is currently a basketball court, will be located at Hoyt Avenue North between 23rd and 24th streets. Councilman Costa Constantinides allocated $500,000 for the dog park after it received 773 votes from the community through participatory budgeting. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is also providing $500,000 for the construction from her discretionary capital funds. “Building a new dog run will bring great benefi ts to the entire community,” Constantinides said. “This lot will be a designated place where dogs can play safely and share full enjoyment with their owners. I am especially proud to know that our residents selected this project through participatory budgeting and that the community showed support for it.” Currently, Astoria residents can bring their dogs to Astoria Park during off-leash hours from 6 to 9 a.m. or to Bugsy’s Dog Run, an unoffi cial dog park that is administered by the Department of Environmental Protection. According to the Astoria Dog Owners Association website, the run is inadequate for several reasons. The space experiences frequent fl ooding, there is no fresh water source for dogs, and the fence enclosing the area is too low and has many holes. According to a 2012 study conducted by the New York Economic Development Corporation, Astoria has one of the highest cat and dog ownership rates in Queens with 30,001 to 41,627 pets living in the neighborhood. According to Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, construction for projects such as this dog park take about a year and a half to begin and the Parks Department will hold meetings to receive suggestions on designs from the public. Community Board 1, the Astoria Dog Owners Association and the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association will be in charge of cleaning and maintaining the park. “In a borough of families, dogs are very much a part of many New York families’ lives,” Katz said. “The Astoria Dog Park will become the newest public treasure in the neighborhood offering a safe environment for families to enjoy with their four-legged family members.” Local pol brings together community offi cials on proposed Bayside high school BY ALINA SURIEL email@example.com/@alinangelica Councilman Paul Vallone held a community engagement meeting at his district offi ce on Sept. 22 regarding the proposed high school to be built at the Bayside Jewish Center. Representatives from the School Construction Authority (SCA) and Department of Education (DOE) attended the meeting along with community board members and interested residents. This is the second conference the councilman has held on the subject. Discussion revolved around plans for the future of the new school, with the SCA made several commitments to increase community input and encourage civic participation in the school’s installation. Although the contract between the SCA and the Bayside Jewish Center has already been signed, the SCA vowed that the community will be able to determine what type of programs the school will provide. This could include specialized programs and areas of study otherwise uncommon in northeast Queens. The SCA and Vallone’s offi ce will build a group of community stakeholders to gather input on which specialized programs the school will host. The SCA also committed to take the context of the neighborhood into consideration with regards to the immediate area’s residential character. This had led to concessions on the size and scale of school to minimize the impact on the community of mostly single-family homes. Additionally, an environmental impact study slated to start during the summer was pushed back after concerns that it would be more accurate if conducted during the school year. Vallone said that although the school site selection process has historically lacked transparency, the commitments the SCA and DOE have made to date are signifi cant steps toward improving community engagement. “I don’t think anyone supports the SCA’s site selection process, a process that clearly needs to be changed,” said Vallone. “However, our continuing community engagement forums will ensure that our community’s voices are heard and that we play an integral role in our children’s educational future.” DOE spokesman Jason Fink said that the SCA is fully cooperating with residents and everyone else who might be affected by the incoming school. “As we continue our effort to reduce school overcrowding in Queens and throughout our city, we are fully engaging our partners to ensure ongoing dialogue on all aspects of this project as we move forward.” State Senator Tony Avella has also been involved in recent inquiries surrounding the school’s installation in Bayside. According to the senator, Attorney General Karin Goldman has declared that proper regulations were not observed in the sale of the Bayside Jewish Center because the organization did not give his offi ce the opportunity to review whether or not the deal was compliant with existing statutes. Bayside Jewish Center President Joshua Sussman was unable to be reached as of press time.
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