De Blasio Announces Funding For Parks

BY JAMES FARRELL

Mayor de Blasio addresses a crowd at Martin Van Buren High School.

Mayor de Blasio addresses a crowd at Martin Van Buren High School.

City Hall is providing additional funding to improve the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a town hall alongside city agencies at Martin Van Buren High School on Nov. 2.

Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), who hosted the town hall with de Blasio, previously secured $1.25 million to repave and rehabilitate the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, a bike path that hadn’t seen upgrades in 20 years. The mayor announced an additional $4 million investment.

“He needs a lot more money, it turns out,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio provided updates to other projects in Grodenchik’s district: He vowed to repave 100 miles of roads in the region between now and June, and at least three new Select Bus Service routes are on the horizon in the district.

“We will need your help to plan the routes with community leaders to make sure we get it right,” he said.
De Blasio also promised that Martin Van Buren High School and the Business Technology Early College High School would have air conditioning in every classroom before the end of next year.

Several accused de Blasio of dragging his feet on backing efforts to overhaul the property tax system—a concern for northeast Queens residents, and particularly co-op owners, who have long argued that the current system overburdens them.

De Blasio acknowledged that the property tax system “is a mess all across the board,” but that reforms must come from a combination of his office, the City Council and the state legislature. He vowed to “put those pieces together,” but cautioned it could take a few years.

“When the smoke clears, the revenue levels have to be overall roughly the same,” he said. “I know you’d like 2,000 more officers on patrol, and I imagine you like kids getting pre-K, and all that costs money.”

Asked to support a bill that would cap property tax assessments on co-ops as a form of temporary relief, de Blasio said that he was hesitant. Moving forward with relief for one class of taxpayers would be unfair to other struggling groups, he argued.

When asked about the city’s use of hotels as homeless shelters, de Blasio reaffirmed the city’s commitment to halt the practice and find more permanent solutions.

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