Today’s news:

Closed 32nd Street block to get work done

The city will repave and landscape the closed off block between 24th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard, which is littered with bottles, cans and chunks of pavement The water main and sewer will be replaced and a new curb, sidewalk and street lights will be added. The middle of the block, a brush-ridden dirt hill blocked off by a street divider, will be converted into a step street for handicapped access. "This may be the first step street in New York City in over 40 years," said Vallone, whose office obtained a portion of the funds for the city Department of Design and Construction project. "We're going to turn a rat-infested garbage pit into a beautiful landscaped walkway. This is a great project which we all worked hard to get started. It will make Astoria even more beautiful."A retaining wall along the street collapsed about three years ago, according to Vallone's office. The DDC said that Community Board 1 requested the overhaul years ago through the city Department of Transportation. Construction work is expected to last about one year. Vallone said his father, former Councilman Peter Vallone Sr. (D-Astoria), obtained the first city funds for the venture. A spokesman with Vallone Jr.'s office did not know the total amount the councilmen provided. Julie Wager, a local resident and 27-year veteran of Community Board 1, said he was happy to hear about the project. "It's just a mess. It's full of garbage," Wager said. "People have been screaming about it for a long time."Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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