Brand new, $32.4 million Elmhurst Community Library opens

By Bill Parry

Originally published by the Times Ledger on December 23, 2016

Courtesy of NYC Department of Design and Construction. Hundred of Elmhurst residents wach elected and Queens Library officials cut the ribbon opening the new Elmhurst Community Library.

Courtesy of NYC Department of Design and Construction.
Hundred of Elmhurst residents wach elected and Queens Library officials cut the ribbon opening the new Elmhurst Community Library.

Elmhurst has its library back and hundreds of community members turned out for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and flag-raising Tuesday.

The new $32.4 million Elmhurst Community Library at 86-01 Broadway is nearly double the size of the original at 32,000 square feet, with four fully accessible levels for library service, separate adult, teen and children’s library spaces, and an adult learning center on its own level.

“The new Elmhurst Community Library is a direct response to the changing needs and demographics of a vibrant, diverse neighborho­od,” Queens Library President Dennis Walcott said. “We expect it to be one of the most heavily trafficked libraries in our system and one of the busiest in the country, with an estimated 1.1 million children coming here to learn, dream, explore and get what they need to navigate through life.”

The English language collection includes 75,000 books and multimedia items and an additional 36,000 books in nine languages. Construction of the new terraclad structure began in 2011 and it replaces the smaller library built in 1906.

“The Elmhurst Library is back and better than ever. I welcome this beautiful state-of-the-art facility into the community,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “Libraries are a vital part of every New York City neighborhood. They connect our children with the resources they need to learn and offer them a quiet place to study. Libraries also serve as community centers for our seniors. This new and improved building will ensure that the Queens Library continues to meet the needs of the Elmhurst community.”

Borough President Melinda Katz, whose office allocated funds, credited former Borough President Helen Marshall for providing more than $18 million toward the project.

“It really is taxpayer money going right back into the community,” Katz said. “The new Elmhurst Library is a magnificent facility that will become a center of learning, literacy and culture for residents of all ages for decades to come.”

The new building includes 13,000 square feet of outdoor space with two green roofs, a learning garden and features a sleek and modern glass cube reading room. A fireplace mantle from the original library was moved into the new children’s room and brickwork from its original facade surround the foyer at the Broadway entrance all designed by Marpillero Pollak Architects and overseen by the city Department of Design and Construction.

“We were impressed by the intensity with which the local community used the library: as a venue for social gathering, interaction between generations, educational facility, news and information source, Internet access, cultural setting and, of course, as a reading and books borrowing outlet,” Marpillero Pollak Architects Principal Linda Pollak said. “Whenever we visited in the morning, there would be a large group of patrons outside, waiting for the library to open. It was clear that the library needed to expand in order to accommodate the community that places so much importance on it.”

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艾姆赫斯特 吟詩點亮聖誕樹 [Elmhurst Poem Reading and Christmas Tree Lighting]

記者俞姝含/紐約報導

 

艾姆赫斯特點燈儀式熱鬧舉行。(記者俞姝含/攝影)

艾姆赫斯特點燈儀式熱鬧舉行。(記者俞姝含/攝影)

 

Originally published by the World Journal on December 2, 2016, 6:00 am

艾姆赫斯特第二屆點燈儀式1日在百老匯街(Broadway)的CC Moore Playground舉行,近百名來自附近學校的學生和居民歡唱聖誕歌曲,八名高中生用中文吟誦學者Clement Clarke Moore的詩歌,聖誕樹在熱情掌聲中被點亮。

當晚,公立13小學、公立102小學以及第五初中的學生們帶領眾多民眾一起唱聖誕歌。市議員卓姆(Daniel Dromm)與州參議員史塔文斯基(Toby Stavisky)一起朗誦學者Clement Clarke Moore的詩歌「A Visit from St. Nicholas」,此後由亞洲人平等會指導的八名來自皇后語言研究高中(Queens High School for Language Studies)的學生用中文邊唱邊朗誦此詩。雖然許多人並不懂中文,但仍對他們精彩的表演報以熱烈的掌聲,一同提前享受聖誕氣氛。

這個公園平日裡有不少民眾聚眾賭博,甚至發生打架事件等。卓姆表示,希望藉此機會提升此公園的知名度,並向附近民眾傳播多元文化意義非凡,希望日後艾姆赫斯特社區能更加文明團結。史塔文斯基也說,艾姆赫斯特附近案件頻發,希望能藉此機會凝聚附近居民的向心力,增加節日的喜氣。

來自皇后語言研究高中的華裔學生翁祺和高Kevin以自身中文能力指導不同族裔的同學們練習,八名學生在兩周內用拼音學習中文詩。表演後學生們非常興奮,紛紛表示這是個獨特的經歷,希望以後還能參加此類慶祝活動,幫助中國文化融入社區。

在这里阅读更多

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School Supplies Giveaway

Originally posted by the Queens Gazette on August 31, 2016

(L. to r.); Samaritan Village President and CEO Tino Hernandez, NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm and state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky deliver free backpacks and other school supplies donated by Queens Center Mall to students at the Pan Am Boulevard Family Transitional Residence.

(L. to r.); Samaritan Village President and CEO Tino Hernandez, NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm and state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky deliver free backpacks and other school supplies donated by Queens Center Mall to students at the Pan Am Boulevard Family Transitional Residence.

Last Wednesday, state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Whitestone, Elmhurst) and Samaritan Village President and CEO Tino Hernandez joined NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm (D-Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) for a back-to-school backpack giveaway sponsored by Queens Center Mall at the Pan Am Boulevard Family Transitional Residence.

Dromm and Stavisky delivered over 200 backpacks to students of all ages living in the Pan Am Boulevard Family Transitional Residence. The 216-unit facility is located at 79-00 Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, and has provided shelter to homeless families with children since June 2014.

“All children have a right to a quality education,” said Dromm, a former NYC public school teacher. “These free school supplies help provide that by enabling them to excel in the classroom. I am pleased to join Queens Center Mall and Senator Stavisky in delivering these backpacks, notebooks and other supplies to our neighbors in need.”

“Proper school supplies set children on the right track for the school year,” said Stavisky. “No one should be denied a backpack, notebook, pens or any other materials they need to be a productive student. I look forward to participating in this giveaway with Council Member Dromm every year, because I believe families should not have to choose between buying groceries or buying school supplies. Socio-economic status should not determine your access to a great education.”

“It is always our pleasure to partner with the community in Back-to-School events,” said Queens Center Mall Senior Property Manager Jeffrey Owen. “Queens Center is pleased to have contributed 1,400 backpacks this year. Queens Center continues to be a proud sponsor and supporter of these events year after year.”

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Boycott Queens Ctr. Chick-fil-A: Dromm

By Christopher Barca

Originally published by the Queens Chronicle on May 5, 2016

PHOTO BY MARK TURNAUCKAS / FLICKR.   Popular fast-food chain Chick-fil-A will open a restaurant in the Queens Center mall this fall. Councilman Danny Dromm has called for a boycott of the location, citing company leadership’s past verbal and financial support of anti-LGBT groups.

PHOTO BY MARK TURNAUCKAS / FLICKR.
Popular fast-food chain Chick-fil-A will open a restaurant in the Queens Center mall this fall. Councilman Danny Dromm has called for a boycott of the location, citing company leadership’s past verbal and financial support of anti-LGBT groups.

The Queens Center mall is packed with restaurant options, be it fast food or sit-down dining.

Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) wants hungry shoppers to avoid one location when it opens later this year: Chick-fil-A.

After published reports said Saturday that the popular fast-food eatery will open its first outerborough location inside the mall this fall, Dromm slammed the company on Monday over its leadership’s past comments condemning same-sex marriage and financial contributions to organizations that supposedly sponsor anti-LGBT causes.

“Chick-fil-A is anti-LGBT,” Dromm said in a statement. “I am deeply disturbed that Chick-fil-A continues to give 25 percent of their charitable contributions to anti-LGBT organizations, including over $1 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.”

According to reports published in 2012, the WinShape Foundation — created by Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy and his family — had given millions of dollars in donations and grants over the years to groups such as the Marriage & Family Foundation and the National Christian Foundation, many of which were criticized as being anti-LGBT by gay and lesbian advocacy organizations.

When the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the federal definition of marriage as being only between one man and one woman was unconstitutional, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy tweeted it was a “sad day” for the nation and that the Founding Fathers would be “ashamed” of the decision.

In the years since the comments, Chick-fil-A and the WinShape Foundation have ceased giving funds to such groups with the exception of a $1 million donation the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization that demands prospective ministry leaders condemn “impure lifestyles” like homosexuality in order to be hired, among other issues.

Dromm hammered Chick-fil-A for its continued relationship with the FCA, calling Monday on shoppers to boycott the eatery and the Queens Center mall to reconsider its contract with the company.

“This group imparts a strong anti-LGBT message by forcing their employees and volunteers to adhere to a policy that prohibits same-sex love,” he said. “It is outrageous that Chick-fil-A is quietly spreading its message of hate by funding these types of organizations.

“I hope that the Queens Center mall will reconsider giving a company so deeply invovled in anti-gay discrimination a lease on their property,” he continued. “Believers in equality should boycott these purveyors of hate.”

Chick-fil-A spokeswoman Desiree’ Fulton fired back on Tuesday, saying the restaurant does not discriminate against LGBT employees or customers and no longer financially assists anti-gay groups.

“Our intent is not to support groups with political agendas,” Fulton wrote in an email to the Chronicle. “The Chick-fil-A Foundation gives 100 percent of its dollars to programs supporting youth, education and the local communities in which our restaurants operate.

“The Chick-fil-A Foundation partners with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” she continued, “specifically to provide free summer sports camps for hundreds of young students in urban environments throughout the nation.”

A spokesman for Macerich, Queens Center mall’s management company, had no comment on Dromm’s remarks, but said work on the Chick-fil-A location has begun and the new addition to the food court should open “sometime in the fall.”

Speaking at an unrelated press conference at the 105th Precinct in Queens Village on Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio criticized the eatery’s leadership for its previous comments and financial donations, but said he doesn’t agree with Dromm on a possible boycott of the location.

“It is a country in which people have a right to open a business,” de Blasio said. “What the ownership of Chick-fil-A has said is wrong. I’m certainly not going to patronize them and I wouldn’t urge any other New Yorker to patronize them, but they do have a legal right.”

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Bike Lane Among Safety Improvements Slated for Next Phase of Queens Blvd.

By Katie Honan

Originally published by DNAinfo on February 12, 2016, 8:52 am.

The former "Boulevard of Death" will get fixes between Roosevelt and Jamaica avenues.  Photo Credit: NYC DOT.

The former “Boulevard of Death” will get fixes between Roosevelt and Jamaica avenues. Photo Credit: NYC DOT.

ELMHURST — The city is moving forward with its next phase of reforming the “Boulevard of Death” into a safer street for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

A request for proposals was issued for fixes to Queens Boulevard from Roosevelt to Jamaica avenues, which will be similar to the work done elsewhere in Woodside, Sunnyside and Long Island City.

Plans will be focused on making the boulevard safer for all, including a redesign of the medians and malls that will “calm traffic and provide a safer, more inviting, and accessible space for pedestrians as well as a separated and protected bicycle lane to allow for safe cyclist travel along the boulevard,” according to the RFP.

Along with a bike lane planned for the stretch, trees, benches, bus shelters and other design elements would also be added to the public space, officials said.

And traffic flow will be “optimized” with the removal of some service road access lanes and relocating buses to the main road, the document says.

At “hot spots” — places on the Boulevard with major safety concerns — there could be additional changes to the street, according to the RFP.

While the project is in its infancy, Councilman Danny Dromm brought up the changes at Community Board 4’s general meeting on Tuesday and urged people to keep an open mind.

One board member asked where a bike lane would go along the busy Queens Center Mall, and said there wasn’t room.

Dromm said safety was the main goal.

“The fact of the matter is, there are people bicycling [on Queens Boulevard] already so I think what we have to do is come up with a plan that works for as many people as possible,” he said.

Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference near the new Queens Boulevard bike lanes to announce the city had been its safest under new Vision Zero initiatives.

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MTA Will Fund New Elmhurst LIRR Station

By Yvette Brown

Originally published in the Queens Tribune on January 14, 2016

The Long Island Rail Road is coming back to Elmhurst in the near future to help local residents get to and from the city in a more convenient way.

The reopening of the Elmhurst LIRR station, located on Broadway between Cornish and Whitney avenues, has been a goal of U.S. Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Queens), Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) since 2012. The station was shut down in 1985 because of the lack of usage.

The site of the former, and perhaps future, Elmhurst LIRR Station on Broadway in Elmhurst. File Photo courtesy of the Queens Tribune.

The elected officials had written letters to the LIRR president, held walk-throughs and conducted a ridership survey to get the process moving along, and it appears to have worked.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s 2015-2019 Capital Program, which includes $40 million and reconstructing the Elmhurst LIRR station, was approved in November 2015.

The first letter to the NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner and MTA Capital Program Review Board Chair Joan McDonald was to discuss the reopening and speak about how vitally important it is to ensure greater transportation options in the area. Crowley and Dromm initially wanted to reopen the LIRR station in January of 2012, which they both explained would not only create improved access to Midtown Manhattan, but also help create jobs in Elmhurst as well. Both elected officials led a walking tour of the site with officials from MTA to further explore the possibility of reopening the station in March of 2012. This was followed by a town hall with residents about a month later to discuss transportation issues within the community.

According to the 2010 Census, “Elmhurst is home to one of the most diverse populations in the country, a trend that will likely continue in the near future as the community continues to grow.”

The ridership survey was then conducted in June of 2013. There were two components of the survey, a written version and the other was in person with sites located at nearby subway stations and areas surrounding Elmhurst Hospital Center. Both of them contained questions about what means of transportation residents use at the time, their travel frequency, their mode of choice and how they might avail themselves of LIRR service.

“This survey will be very important in helping us determine if there is sufficient demand in the Elmhurst community to consider reopening the station,” said Helena Williams, LIRR President, during the time of the ridership survey. “We urge residents to take a few minutes to fill it out. There are many issues that need to be carefully evaluated as part of this process but this is an important first step.”

Following the ridership survey came the funding. Crowley, Meng and Dromm released a statement following the release of the MTA’s Capital Program.

“Restoring LIRR service to Elmhurst will help a burgeoning neighborhood reach its full economic potential and become a destination for all New Yorkers,” said Crowley, Meng and Dromm. “We are thrilled to learn the MTA agrees that investing in this community is a win-win and that they have included critical funding to rebuild the station in their recently proposed capital budget. For years, Elmhurst residents have called for greater transportation options and we are now one step closer to turning this idea into a reality. We will continue to work with MTA officials to ensure this project remains a top priority and look forward to the day when Elmhurst will be the next stop for millions of New Yorkers.”

“We have budgeted $30.5 million for the design and construction of a new LIRR station at Elmhurst,” said Aaron Donovan, spokesperson for the MTA. “It would include two new 12-car-long platforms along with staircases, platform railings, platform shelters, ticket vending machines, as well as lighting, communication and security systems. The station will be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, with elevators. The funding includes environmental review, design and construction.”

“For Elmhurst, one of Queens’ most vibrant and fastest-growing communities, the reopening of its LIRR station will be transformational,” said Crowley. “I applaud the MTA Board for approving the project as part of its 2015-19 capital program and I thank both Congresswoman Grace Meng and Council Member Daniel Dromm for their roles in helping to make this a reality. After years of advocating for this new station, the MTA Board approval means we are yet one step closer to not only ensuring local residents have the transportation options they deserve but also making sure Elmhurst lives up to its full economic potential.”

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Dromm disturbed over illegal conversion of Elmhurst apartment for listing on Airbnb

By Bill Parry

Originally published by the Times Ledger on December 17, 2015

airbnb_2015_12_18_q01_i

Photo by Bill Parry. Two residents convert their three bedroom Elmhurst apartment into 10 small units they listed on Airbnb.

City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) has an Airbnb problem in hisdistrict and he’s not happy about it.

One of his constituents, Eddie Shiew, owns a three-story home in Elmhurst. Shiew recently rented the third floor, a three-bedroom apartment to Burak Firik and Dogan Kimilli for $2,500 a month, according to WPIX. Shiew found that the two renters renovated the unit without his knowledge.

“I went in the next day and found they had turned a three-bedroom into a 10-bedroom apartment,” Shiew told WPIX. Using sheetrock, a construction crew had subdivided each bedroom and then listed the micro-rooms for rent for $35 a night on Airbnb, the house-sharing website.

Shiew brought in workmen to remove the sheetrock, changed the locks on the doors and demanded the two renters leave.

“They went to court and got a court order against me,” Shiew told WPIX. “They said I illegally locked them out.”

Once back on the third floor, the two recreated the spaces for rent on Airbnb using curtains instead of sheetrock. Shiew hired an attorney and is trying to evict them.

“I am deeply disturbed by recent allegations as reported by WPIX of the illegal conversion of a three-bedroom apartment at 88-23 53rd Ave. in Elmhurst into 10 cramped rooms, which were then listed on Airbnb’s website by the renters of the apartment,” Dromm said. “This is yet another example of how Airbnb incentivizes the depletion of affordable housing stock in New York City, exacerbating our already severe housing crisis.”Dromm called on Airbnb to immediately remove the listings for Shiew’s home and other similar listings. Then he called on the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement to launch an investigation of the owner’s complaint.

“We have suspended listings we believe are associated with this story while we investigate and we will take appropriate action,” an Airbnb spokesman said. “Situations like these are rare and we strongly oppose illegal hotels.”

Neither Firik nor Kimilli could be reached for comment.

Read more here.

Times Newsweekly: Rescued Cat Needs Home

by Anthony Giudice

<br />
High-climbing cat Dorothy Gale (above) is looking for a loving family to adopt her.

After being stuck in a tree three-stories high, a cat was rescued on Dec. 20, 2014 outside of Newtown High School in Elmhurst.

The one-year-old cat, now named Dorothy Gale was noticed by animal activists on Dec. 17. Annet Artani, singer/songwriter and founder of Miney’s Rescue of Love which she runs out of her home in Flushing, was contacted about the cat being stuck in a tree for a day.

Artani decided to take action to get the high climbing kitten down. After getting in touch with more animal rights activists a ladder was brought to the tree, but “the ladder was too small, it was impossible. Something must have spooked her to go so high up in the tree,” Artani said.

When attempts to reach police and fire departments failed a member of the Elmhurst community reached out to Council Member Daniel Dromm for help.

“Recently, we received a call from a constituent in Elmhurst stating that a cat had been stuck in a tree for three days. I am an animal rights activist and knew we had to help,” Dromm said. “We immediately started making calls to bring Dorothy Gale to safety. I’m glad we helped.”

After three days of sitting in the tree Dorothy Gale was finally brought down by Fire Department Battalion 46.

Since being rescued from the tree the kitten was brought to a veterinarian office where she was given her shots and deemed healthy.

Efforts to find out if Dorothy Gale had previous owners has gone nowhere. Signs were placed and the story has gained “plenty of media attention, someone would have noticed,” Artani said.

Dorothy Gale has been living with Artani since the rescue. “No body was prepared to bring her anywhere. So I brought her back with me,” Artani said.

The animal rights activist thanked Dromm for his support in rescuing the cat when others might not have. “I feel like he is one of the good guys,” Artani said. “He wanted to send support, it shows how in touch he is with the community. We want people like that in the city council.”

When asked where the cat got her name Artani said “I named her. I like to give my animals names with personality. Dorothy Gale was found at the top of the highest tree so she is overdramatic. So I gave her a dramatic name.” She is named after Dorothy from the classic film “Wizard of Oz.”

Artani is still looking for someone to adopt the frisky feline. “She’s a friendly little thing,” Artani said of Dorothy Gale. Dromm also wants to see the kitten go to a nice home, saying, “now, we hope someone can give her a nice, warm, permanent home.”

Anyone interested in adopting Dorothy Gale can contact Artani at 1-347-924- 5707 or fonoula28@aol.com.

Visit Times Newsweekly here.

Western Queens Gazette: Tour Unkempt LIRR Overpass, Demand Improvements


(L. to r.); Christian Cassagnol, district manager, Community Board 4 Queens; Councilmember Daniel Dromm; state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky; Rosemarie Daraio, president, COMET Civic Group; and Geraldine Walsh, treasurer, COMET Civic Group.

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing); Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights); Christian Cassagnol, district manager, Community Board 4 Queens; Rosemarie Daraio, president, COMET Civic Group; and Geraldine Walsh, treasurer, COMET Civic Group, toured the 55th Avenue/Elmhurst Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) overpass with LIRR and Department of Sanitation officials to discuss the unkempt conditions and demand immediate improvements to address the situation.

“This site must be cleaned and made safe for pedestrians,” said Stavisky. “There is no substitute for an on-site visit to see conditions first-hand. Councilmember Dromm and I will continue to monitor the problem.”

“Quality of life issues are vitally important to the growth, strength and happiness of the community,” said Dromm. “Monday’s walk-through hopefully marks the start of a stronger commitment from the LIRR to keep their property clean. I thank the railroad, Senator Stavisky, the Department of Sanitation and the many community activists for working on this issue.”