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Abel gets millions for parks, schools in city budget

Abel, one of three Queens Republicans in...

By Kathianne Boniello

City Councilman Mike Abel (R-Bayside) has secured more than $5 million for schools, parks, playgrounds and community groups throughout his northeast Queens district in the final budget of his last term in office.

Abel, one of three Queens Republicans in the City Council, has been in office for nearly 10 years and is prohibited from seeking a third term under the city’s 1993 term limits law. Abel announced his candidacy in the borough president’s race in November 1999 but dropped out of the contest in March.

The City Council voted last Thursday to approve a nearly $40 billion budget for the city that replaces millions of dollars of cuts and reductions originally proposed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Abel obtained more than $1 million for schools in his district and some $4 million for school playgrounds and parks in his area as well as funding for about 54 community groups.

“It feels good to know as I look around my district that my accomplishments are being shared and enjoyed by everyone,” Abel said.

The 19th Councilmanic District covers most of northeast Queens and includes the communities of Bayside, Bay Terrace, Whitestone, College Point, Malba, Douglas Manor, Beechurst, and parts of Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Linden Hill and Murray Hill.

Schools throughout Districts 25 and 26 in northeast Queens will benefit from Abel’s budget work, including PS 32 in Auburndale, PS 79, PS 184, PS 193, PS 209 and JHS 194 in Whitestone, PS 130 in Bayside, PS 169 in Bay Terrace and IS 25 in Flushing. Each of the schools were to receive $100,000 for technology upgrades.

PS 162 in Auburndale was slated to get $100,000 to upgrade its library/media center, Abel said in a news release, and PS 31 in Bayside was to receive $75,000 for construction.

The councilman, who has not announced what he will do after leaving office, also obtained nearly $2 million for fencing and baseball field improvements for a park in Little Bay and funding for the design and construction of a new skateboard facility that could be built near Fort Totten in Bayside.

The playground at MS 158 in Bayside — which was completely redesigned within the last few years — was expected to get $300,000 for a new garden area in this year’s budget.

Raymond O’Connor Park in Bayside will undergo a reconstruction that will include new shrubs and benches for $1 million, Abel said, and Poppenhusen Park Playground in College Point will get $900,000 for its reconstruction.

“There is no greater feeling than seeing children playing hockey or baseball in Little Bay Park where there once was only grass, children lining up to play in MS 158, hearing seniors get the services they deserve or listening to parents and teachers tell me how the technology at the school helped the children achieve a better education,” he said.

Abel got $100,000 to reconstruct the Poppenhusen branch of the Queensborough library in College Point, and also obtained $1 million for the city to buy and protect private property in Udall’s Cove, a wetlands preserve that sits on the border between Douglaston, Little Neck and Great Neck, L.I.

A number of groups throughout Abel’s district will get an unspecified amount of money, including the Bayside Little League, the College Point Roadrunners Club, the Queens Child Guidance Center, the Whitestone Community Center youth program, the St. Andrew Avellino Friendship Club, Alley Pond Environmental Center, the Bayside Historical Society and the Flushing Council of the Arts.

According to Abel’s news release, this year’s budget also includes funding for the resurfacing of streets in the district and monies for a city Parks Department water truck for parks within Community Boards 7 and 11, which are in Abel’s district.

“A good budget makes people’s lives better and easier,” Abel said. “The constituents and I have worked together over the years through good times and bad times. This legacy is one we can all take credit in, and I share it with each and every one of them.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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