Van Bramer calls on NYCHA to fix center at Queensbridge

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (c.) and Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James (second from r.) advocate for better upkeep at a Queensbridge NYCHA house. Photo courtesy Jimmy Van Bramer
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A Queens lawmaker called on the city last Friday to repair a crumbling Long Island City community center.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) stood with community leaders at the Jacob Riis Settlement in Queensbridge Houses to detail the decrepit conditions of the bathrooms and demand the city finally install a long-delayed air-conditioning system.

“Jacob Riis Settlement Neighborhood House is the hub and heart of Queensbrid­ge,” Van Bramer said. “How long do our seniors and youth have to wait for these renovations and improvements to take place?”

The councilman accused the city of sitting on $300,000 he helped to allocate over the past three years that has not yet trickled down in the form of renovations.

“It is impossible and unconscionable to believe that it is going to take NYCHA nearly five years to fix our community center,” he said. “This is a disgrace. We cannot and will not wait any longer. I call on NYCHA to get this work done for the residents of Queensbridge. Not tomorrow, but today.”

He was not alone in his complaints about the current state of the building.

“It is unfortunate that our Queensbridge facility sometimes seems unwelcoming,” said Christopher Hanway, executive director of the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House, citing the shabby conditions. “I urge NYCHA to utilize these funds in a timely manner and give the residents of Queensbridge the community center they rightfully deserve.”

In response NYCHA wrote in a statement, “The New York City Housing Authority has met with Councilman Van Bramer earlier to discuss the steps needed to move this project forward and we are working with Mr. Van Bramer to bring this effort to completion.”

Van Bramer had complained about the state of the center at a news conference in July and recently he cited a NYCHA quarterly report, which he says demonstrates the authority’s inability to properly distribute nearly $50 million in taxpayer money to repair countless projects, including the renovation of community centers like Jacob Riis.

Others at the news conference said the restrooms are so bad many refuse to use them.

“Our older adults are often forced to use the upstairs facilities because many of them simply will not set foot in the downstairs bathrooms,” said Robert Madison, director of the Jacob Riis Senior Center.

Posted 1:53 am, August 23, 2013
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