Today’s news:

Weprin gets $8.2 million for repairs in NE Queens

Just days after Major Michael Bloomberg and the City Council passed the city’s fiscal budget, City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) unveiled a list of community schools, parks and service organizations he has secured funds for throughout his district.

Weprin obtained $8.2 million in capital funds for improvements such as fixing bathrooms, upgrading electrical systems and renovating libraries in his district.

In addition, Weprin and every other council member received $80,000 in discretionary funds, $62,714 in funds for youth programs and $34,714 in funds for senior programs.

The 2003 fiscal year $42.3 billion city budget, which was passed last week after a long bargaining period between the mayor and the City Council, went into effect July 1. The new city budget slashes the allocations for all city programs in order to meet the city’s projected $5 billion deficit.

“This budget echoes input from the many community and groups we have heard from over the course of the Finance Committee hearings,” said Weprin, the chairman of the powerful council committee.

“It will help preserve the quality of life in New York that we cherish,” he said. “I fought hard and maintained the services for senior centers, libraries, schools, social service agencies and cultural institutions that our residents rely on daily.”

Capital funding in the 2003 budget was slashed by between $3 billion and $4 billion due to the budget crunch, Weprin said, and the majority of council members received less capital money than last year.

Weprin, who represents the communities of Glen Oaks, Bellerose, New Hyde Park, Queens Village, Hollis and parts of Fresh Meadows, was able to secure more capital funding in 2003 than his predecessor did in 2002.

“Capital funding is based on need and advocacy for projects,” Weprin said. “I think that I did better than most.”

Traditionally, he said, the chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee gets more capital money than other members because the finance chairman can push their projects as the committee’s staff makes its decisions. But, Weprin said, a large portion of his capital funding such as $1.9 million for Cunningham Park and more than $2 million for Queensboro Community College are used by the borough’s entire population.

The projects earmarked for funding from Weprin’s capital budget are: $100,000 for PS 186 for a new alarm system; $420,000 for MS 67 to upgrade the electrical system; $99,000 for MS 172 for flood elimination; $100,000 for MS 203 to renovate the library. Martin Van Buren is getting matching funds depending on how much is raised to upgrade its athletic field and Queensboro Community College is using the more than $2 million for a new building, computer center and audio lab.

Parks slated to get funds are the Telephone Playground at PS 205, $450,000 for renovation; the 80th Avenue Playground at PS 115, $75,000 for new equipment; Cunningham Park, $1.9 million to renovate the bathroom; and Breinnger Park, $500,000 for phase II renovation.

Some of the other organizations receiving money from Weprin are the Alley Pond Environmental Center, Bayside Soccer League, Cross Island YM-YWCA, Glen Oaks Little League, Jamaica Estates Holliswood Little League, Pride of Judea, Kerala Cultural Association, Service for Adult Persons and St. Gregory the Great Community Service Center.

“There are also some big items” scheduled for the 2004 budget, Weprin said, including $6 million for construction of a new Glen Oaks library, he said.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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