On September 19, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, along with Dr. Gail Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College, announced to the college's faculty and students that he was able to secure millions in funding towards renovating the LaGuardia Community College Library. The renovation will largely include a complete makeover of the library's first floor, followed by an open plan that would allow for better access to both students and the faculty.
“LaGuardia Community College has continued to play a tremendous role in the lives of countless New York City residents for over four decades,” said Council Member Van Bramer. “With the $2 million in capital funding I have secured, we will be able to usher the institution’s library into the 21st Century. By investing in LaGuardia’s infrastructure, we will provide students and faculty with a state-of-the-art facility that will expand the availability of educational resources offered at the library, as well as help to enrich research and study programming for thousands of students and faculty in the decades to come.”
In other local school-related news, on Sept. 12 Council Member Van Bramer and New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, along with several other elected officials and local parents and children, helped to celebrate the expansion of Long Island City school P.S./I.S. 78. The new five-story building allows P.S./I.S. 78’s original facility to expand and serve students in grades three through six.
The new, state-of-the-art building opened on September 9th for the first day of school and will now be serving 578 students in P.S./I.S. 78 and P.S. 277 – The Riverview School. The new school is one of five new educational facilities within Western Queens that will all become fully operational over the next four years.
On September 7 Council Member Van Bramer, along with other city officials including Congressman Joe Crowley, State Senator Michael Gianaris, and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, dedicated a street named after Benjamin Wheeler, one of the six-year old victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy, who was born and initially raised in Sunnyside, New York before moving to Connecticut. The family of young Benjamin, along with 150 friends, relatives, and residents from Sunnyside attended the event also. The newly named street in which young Benjamin grew up on is located at the south west corner of 41st Street and Queens Boulevard.
Finally on September 6 Council Member Van Bramer, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, State Senator Michael Gianaris, Dorothy Lewandowski, Queens Parks Commissioner, Sheila Lewandowski, Founder of Friends of Shady Park, and residents and families of LIC celebrated the re-opening of Andrews Grove Playground, aka Shady Park.
“The reopening of one of Long Island City’s most popular parks marks an enormous day in our City’s efforts to fully recover after Hurricane Sandy,” said Council Member Van Bramer. “Immediately after the storm, my office jumped to action with the Parks Department to ensure we set an expedited timetable to get Andrews Grove back open for the families and children who love this playground so dearly. I commend the Parks Department and my colleagues in government for their work on this project. With the $10,000 grant I have secured we will once again be able to celebrate the rebirth of Shady Park when we plant new trees here this Fall. I also would like to thank JetBlue and Warner Bros. for their contributions toward restoring this park.”
During Hurricane Sandy, Andrews Grove experienced significant damage to its play equipment, safety surfaces, and fencing, as well as its tall signature trees which gave the playground its popular nickname, Shady Park. Following the storm, only a small part of the park was open to the public for a limited period of time. Since then the Long Island City park has been fixed with more than $90,000 in City funding. Work began in June, and included the removal of all the damaged items, repairs to playground equipment, new safety surfaces and benches, concrete and asphalt work, resetting of granite pavers, and new topsoil. Another $10,000 was later secured from both JetBlue Airways and Warner Bros. towards the planting of new trees throughout the park beginning this Fall.