Improved Traffic Conditions
Flushing is a major transportation hub with over 20 bus lines, an LIRR stop, and a 7 train terminus within a 4 block radius. In addition, Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue is the second busiest pedestrian intersection in all of New York City. Combined with the rapid development that is occurring in our district, traffic congestion and infrastructure are major concerns.
In order to address these major concerns, I’ve taken multiple steps. One was repaving major roads in our district, such as College Point Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue, Main Street, and Prince Street, along with roads in Queensboro Hill. My district is currently undergoing the Main Street Reconstruction, which is the first major project for Main Street in 20 years. Through this reconstruction, the sidewalks were widen to accommodate all the pedestrians and commuters waiting for their buses home, without sacrificing lanes of traffic. In addition, it has addressed overflow from our catch basins, and upgraded our sewers, while repaving to make sure that the streets are safe for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Through my City Council discretionary funds, I have also secured funding in Fiscal Year 2018 for the Regional Plan Association, the nation’s foremost urban planning organization. With these funds, the RPA will conduct a 12-18 month long public engagement and research effort to study, analyze and make recommendations for strategic investments and policy actions for Greater Flushing.
My office has also been closely working with the DOT to address issues of concerns in our community, like the need for stronger traffic control measures at high incident intersections. Two examples are the additional of new traffic control signal by Kissena Park and increasing signal times to allow for safer pedestrian crossings at Northern Boulevard and Prince Street.
I have also worked with the NYPD and DOT to get more TEAs at major intersections in downtown Flushing, and get rid of illegal casino buses off the street (ex. in front of the Free Synagogue of Flushing).
Assisted Small Businesses
Flushing’s small businesses are the economic backbone of our community. People come from all over the world to try our local restaurants, and visit the mom and pop shops that we have lining our streets. As a small business owner myself, I understand how hard it is to run a business in New York City. Flushing, in particular, has a very competitive market comprised mainly of mom and pop shops. Oftentimes city rules and regulations can be detrimental to these businesses, which is compounded by the fact that many of these stores are run by immigrant business owners who can have a language barrier. To address these concerns, I’ve partnered with agencies such as OATH, SBS, DCA and DSNY to host forums and door to door services to educate our local business owners. I’ve also worked to bring these services to downtown Flushing and the businesses so that the owners don’t have to take time out of their day to leave their stores—which often means losing business. Examples include a recent forum with other elected officials regarding how to address OATH violations, setting up a Flushing Business Night at DOB-Queens to address signage violations, and setting up a temporary SBS field office in my district office so that businesses affected by a local fire were able to access the services they needed immediately.
I also work closely with my community’s local business improvement district and have allocated close to $500,000 for the BID to provide extra sanitation services to make our business corridors cleaner and more welcoming.
I have also supported legislation to call for tax breaks for local businesses, and have also advocated for similar measures in budget discussions. I also recently introduced legislation (Intro 1639-2017) that would require the city to submit a plan for encouraging BIDs to increase solar energy use.
With Flushing’s highly competitive market, I always try to keep that perspective in mind when considering new legislation. For example, I recently introduced legislation that would allow for local Business Improvement Districts to purchase solar energy at a more competitive rate.
One of my major accomplishments was securing a $2 million fund for local businesses who were impacted by the city’s sale of a major municipal parking lot in my district. This $2 million was the first package of its kind from EDC and was meant to assist small businesses who were impacted by the construction and loss of business. I am proud to have secured this funding, but also to continue working with the business and EDC to address issues that have arisen. For example, the businesses ran into issues working with the grant’s non-profit administrator. I was able to open the conversation with EDC, on the businesses’ behalf, to change the grant’s administrator to a more responsive organization.
Provided Seniors the Services They Deserve
The senior population is rapidly growing in New York City, and this is especially evident in my district where cultural norms oftentimes have parents living with their adult children and their families. In response to this, I have secured over $2 million for senior services in my district. This includes at least 8 senior centers that provide programming in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Russian. Services include congregate lunch, computer classes, health workshops, case management, and purchasing a karaoke machine (by popular demand of the Latimer Garden Senior Center).
My constituent services team also works closely with our seniors on issues of concern. Everything from helping them verbally translate every day documents, access translator services at agencies and non-profits, and also helping low-income seniors apply for lifeline services / free cell phones.
Last year, we joined with the Tenant Support Unit to educate our community about SCRIE by hosting a series of SCRIE application events throughout our district. We plan to do the same this summer to continue educating our seniors about the programs like SCRIE that are available to them.
Education is extremely important to me. I believe that consistent investment in our public school system and cultural institutions (such as libraries, and organizations like Flushing Town Hall and Queens Botanical Garden, which enhance education). As such, during the past eight years in office, I successfully secured over $21 million in capital improvements for the schools in my district. I was also able to successfully advocate for a new annex for Francis Lewis HS so that they can remove the transportable classroom units (TCUs), and add a new wing to PS24Q to accommodate the growing student population. I secured an additional $12.8 million for our local libraries and cultural institutions.
One of my proudest achievements this term was saving the after school program at PS120Q. Right before the summer was able to start, PS120’s partnering non-profit left the school, taking with it 300 slots in the summer and after school program. Its timing left many parents and students in limbo as they didn’t know if they would have a program. I was able to successfully partner a proven non-profit with Queens College’s education department with PS120Q to create a summer program that continued into the school year and is still active today.
I also have a strong relationship with my local schools, and have worked closely with them to address various issues such as the need for additional safety measures around schools.
Improved Public Safety
During the first term that I was in office, there were at least three shootings in my district. One included an execution style murder in the elevator of a NYCHA building, another involved a gas station attendant who was killed right across the street from the above development, and the third was a stray bullet that went straight into the window of an unsuspecting NYCHA tenant in another development. The community had lost faith in the police and demanded more protection. I secured over $1 million funding to provide security cameras to all three NYCHA developments in my district—the last of which was fully funded as of last year—but also additional funds to the NYPD for ARGUS cameras at key areas in my district. In addition, I worked to strengthen the relationship of the local precinct with the community. This included successfully calling for additional officers on the streets, and also for community affairs officers who understood and spoke the languages of the residents of my district. In instances where NCO or CAU officers were unable to communicate with our constituents, I was more than happy to provide translation services to bridge the communication gap.
Improve Quality of Life
Flushing is rapidly growing and while 160,000 individuals may live in my district, tens of thousands more go through my district each day to get home or to work. This has led to some major sanitation concerns. In response to this, I have secured over $800,000 in additional sanitation services to keep our streets clean. This includes additional basket pick up services from DSNY so that garbage isn’t collecting in bags on the sidewalk and blocking pedestrian access. In addition, I have worked with various community groups to address sanitation services in our local parks. Last summer alone, I hosted numerous park clean up events to address the most concerning parks in my district like Bland Playground and Weeping Beech.
Of particular note is 40th Road in my district. Known as “Restaurant Row,” the single block is home to almost 20 restaurants. However, with all those restaurants, their garbage would pile up on the street, and bags often broken creating sanitary concerns with the sidewalks and the streets. I was able to work with the local BID, and the private carter, to start an initiative to provide the restaurants—and other local businesses that have the same carter—with 45 gallon garbage cans. This initiative keeps the garbage of the street, creating greater accessibility on our sidewalks, and helping to keep them clear of green sludge.
• Secured the only NYC DOE grandparents roundtable forum in Queens to Flushing
• Host free in-office immigration assistance
• Host free in-office tenant legal assistance
• Saved the After School Program at PS120, and funded numerous others in the district
• Created affordable housing in district
• Hosted annual rain barrel give away events with DEP
• Sponsored family fun days throughout the district (Bland, Latimer, Queensboro Hill, Bowne Park)
• Secured over $400,000 in supplemental sanitation services for Flushing
• Worked with DSNY, Crown container and businesses in Flushing to keep trash off our streets
• Worked with DOT and CB7 to Extend the walking time across Northern Boulevard at Prince Street
• Street co-naming of Allison Hope Liao Way, Rev. Dr. Timothy P. Mitchell Way, Daniel Carter Beard Memorial Square
• Honored His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj via a City Council Proclamation
• Hosted multiple Multi-agency walk through to address illegal vending in district
• Brought reform to the city’s Landmarking process to make it more accountable for all parties involved
• Cleaned up the “Trash Triangle” at Prince Street and 37th Avenue
• Hosted a Pre-K application forum in Flushing Library
• Went door-to-door to inform rent stabilized and controlled tenants of their rights
• Co-Sponsored the Annual Diwali celebration in Council Chambers
• Co-hosted the Forgiving Fines event for Flushing Businesses
• Connected local businesses with Small Business Services resources after the Main Street/Roosevelt Avenue Fire
• Building a new wing for PS24
• Building an annex for Francis Lewis HS
• Reopening the 149th Street Bridge
• Pass a resolution naming January 13th of every year Korean American Day in NYC
• Worked with a local supermarket to host expand selection of goods to meet the diverse palate of our community
• Repaved of Main Street, Roosevelt Avenue and College Point Boulevard, and roads around Kissena Corridor Park
• Upgrading Main Street’s infrastructure
• Stopped 7 train disruptions during Lunar New Year
• Lunar New Year recognized as a school holiday
• Co-Sponsored the Old Towne of Flushing Burial Ground’s 10th Anniversary Celebration
• Launched the Keep Flushing Clean Campaign to clean up our local parks
• Worked with DOT to plan and implement the DOT Traffic Remediation Plan
• Worked with Police and various City Agencies to remove illegal Casino ($1) buses off the streets
• Donated Turkeys and Thanksgiving meals to seniors and families in need every year
• Made Community Board more diverse, appointed residents from minority communities to CB7
• Held a rally for more Police Protection
• Annual Asian American Pacific Island Month event at City Hall
• Planned and hosted annual Lunar New Year event at City Hall
• Helped to create Downtown Flushing Task Force
• Partnered to create a Christmas Tree made out of recycled plastic bottles at Queens Crossing
• Partnered with NY Downtown Hospital for Free Flu Shots every year
• Hosted Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) application day in District Office to assist people in filling out form
• Co-sponsored Mental Health Workshop/ seminar in Flushing library
• Hosted day for constituents to speak with State Comptroller’s office regarding reclaiming of funds
• Sponsored Minority Women in Small Business Enterprises workshop
• Sponsored Mandarin Classes at Flushing Library
• Conducted annual Neighborhood Pothole Surveys
• Partnered with Girl Scouts and other organizations for Electronics Recycling Drives (collected 1.5 tons)
• Worked with local agencies to report and resolve issues due to the Tornado Damage
• Increased the number of Chinese Community Affairs officers and more Chinese officers
• Sponsored free tickets to the community for the Mets game / Flushing Night
• Participated as a Census office location to get census forms
• Sponsored English signage for local stores
• Bland and Latimer Town Hall Event – focusing on NYCHA
• Hosted Fall Festival at P.S. 20 with treats and carnival rides for kids
• Participated in Off-Broadway Homeowner Association Cleaning
• Co-sponsored a Deepavalli (Diwali) celebration at Flushing Town Hall
• Honored local leaders with annual Black History Month celebration
• Honored seniors with Older Americans Month celebration
• Provided Blizzard assistance (even cutting down some trees for seniors)
• Conducted Voter Registration drives
• Co-sponsored and participated in National Night Out Against Crime every year
• Sponsored annual Readers are Leaders with NY Mets
© 2017 Peter Koo. All rights reserved.