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VBGC Queens raises over $100K at annual gala

The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens hosted their annual gala on Wednesday, May 18 and raised over $100,000 for their Astoria-based programming.

The event honored Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who received the “George Skouras Award,” Peter Vallone Sr., recipient of the “Judge Charles Vallone Award,” Dr. Cameron Hernandez of Mount Sinai Queens, recipient of the “Albert ‘Cubby’ R. Broccoli Award,” and Paula Kirby of Plaxall, recipient of the “Ann Buehler Award.”

Treasure Hodge, an executive recruitment liaison for VBGC Queens, was honored with the “Staff of the Year” award.

Walter Sanchez, BQE Media Publisher and president of the VBGC Queens Board, was inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with his son, John Sanchez, president of the VBGC Queens Young Professionals Board.

The gala’s silent auction featured items from the New York Mets, Museum of the Moving Image, Milkflower, The Row, Chef Moise, Noguchi Museum, Ample Hills Creamery, Alewife Brewing, Untapped NY & Behind the Scenes NY, JetBlue, NFL, Trattoria L’incontro, Ace Hotel, Disney, Cheesecake Factory and Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom.

Marco Santini was in attendance illustrating his iconic “One Love” painting, asking guests what they value most and incorporating their words into art. At the end of the night, the painting was auctioned off to the highest bidder

The evening was sponsored by Mega Contracting, the Vallone Family, Plaxall, JetBlue, Innovation Queens, Robotti Insurance and Wildflower Studios.

The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens hosted their annual gala on Wednesday, May 18 and raised over $100,000 for their Astoria-based programming
Pictured (l-r) Costa Constantinides, Walter Sanchez, Peter Vallone Sr., Tena Vallone, Paul Vallone, QBP Donovan Richards, and Paula Kirby.

 

DOT closes lanes on BQE

The Department of Transportation (DOT) began its long-awaited renovation of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) on August 30.
The first portion of the project includes extensive repairs on a mile-long stretch between Atlantic Avenue and the Brooklyn Bridge, and will involve reducing the number of lanes from three to two in each direction.
The smaller number of lanes is a permanent change that will stay in place after work is completed.
In a public statement, DOT acknowledged that the lane-reduction will cause “substantial delays” during construction. However, the agency stands by its belief that the project will help to preserve and maintain the decaying road going forward.
“This lane remarking may be inconvenient for some, but it is essential to making the road safer immediately and for decades to come,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “During this necessary work on the BQE, we strongly encourage drivers to seek alternate routes and use public transportation.”
The repair work will most intensely affect truck drivers. The DOT is encouraging trucks to use alternative routes, such as the Hugh Carey Tunnel and New Jersey Turnpike, to bring goods into the city.
Reducing truck traffic and the weight of vehicles on the elevated roadway is one of the overarching goals of the BQE repair project. Announced last month by Mayor Bill de Blasio and DOT, the four-part repair plan is aimed at increasing the road’s lifespan by at least another 20 years through a series of repairs, new vehicle regulations, and continued maintenance.
In addition to the lane-reduction in Downtown Brooklyn, DOT will implement new water filtration systems to avoid further damage. In addition to changes on the BQE itself, the mayor is calling for investments 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.
Traffic along the road has been heavy since the work began, yet longtime advocates of the repair project remain optimistic about the long term good it can bring.
“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.
A spokesperson from community advocacy group Cobble Hill Association also sees the lane-reduction as a first step in making Brooklyn a safer and less-polluted borough.
“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 spokesperson said. “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.”

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.”

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