The mayor held his 39th town hall at August Martin High School Monday to an eager crowd of over 500 constituents just days after announcing his 3-K for All program.
Throughout the evening he mentioned the progress of the city, southeast Queens and the surrounding community near the school located at 156-10 Baisley Blvd. in South Jamaica. He also held a Q&A session that addressed the residents’ concerns.
“This year we have 3-year-olds getting early childhood education,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Parents, plan ahead and tell your family members this is going to be a great thing for their children.”
The mayor announced that since his spearheading of Pre-K for All program across the city, the South Jamaica region has quadrupled the seats for pre-school over the last four years. He also wants to make pre-school for 3-year-olds universal across the city by 2021.
His remarks also focused on crime, illegal dumping, Vision Zero, parks, public housing and even August Martin itself.
Crime is down in South Jamaica, where the 113th Precinct recorded an overall drop in crime of 10 percent from last year as well as a decrease in shootings of 53 percent, according to de Blasio.
The mayor credited the drop in crime to the additional 2,000 officers he has hired during his tenure, the Neighborhood Community Officer program, and to local activists like Erica Ford of LIFE Camp Inc., an organization dedicated to stopping violent crime among youth.
“In the last 3 1/2 years LIFE Camp’s catchment area has not had a single murder,” said de Blasio.
LIFE Camp manages its South Jamaica Cure Violence program mostly in Rochdale Village.
To curb the illegal dumping crisis in the district, which he learned about from Community Board 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams , the mayor and the head of Sanitation will increase fines from $1,200 to $5,000 and penalties will be higher for repeat offenders.
The mayor touted the decrease in car deaths and accidents through his Vision Zero program. He has turned 12 narrow two-way streets in downtown Jamaica into expansive one-way streets, and earlier in the day a speed bump was added to the Sikh Cultural Society building in Richmond Hill by the city Department of Transportation.
The tennis and basketball courts at the Police Officer Edward Byrne Park in South Ozone Park will get a $2.6 million makeover from the Parks Department, he said. Jamaica Playground in South Jamaica will receive $4.6 million in playground area and basketball and handball court renovations.
When asked by an 8-year-old who attends PS 108 in South Ozone Park to get garbage cans and new bathrooms for Baisley Pond Park, he made the early announcement that it will receive almost $10 million in updates.
“There will be $850,000 in upgrades to the fitness equipment, there will be $3 million for the track and the renovations to the soccer and football field will be $6 million,” he said,
De Blasio wants to add 150 units of affordable housing units for seniors at North Eastern Towers, an assisted living facility on Guy Brewer Boulevard in Rochdale.
“The people who need affordable housing the most are our seniors,” the mayor said. “Just last week the City Council approved the North Eastern Towers annex of 150 affordable apartments for seniors.”
When the issue of vermin at the facility was brought up during the Q&A, the representatives for the departments of Aging, Housing and Health did not know who was responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the senior homes.
“We found the problem here, haven’t we?” de Blasio said and then he singled out the Health Department. “We are going to be having more senior housing in the city and we need to have a holistic policy with clear health standards in it.”
Through the Department of Education August Martin received $1.7 million for a library and new technology.
The PTA president of the school asked the mayor what he was doing to close the gap between graduation rates and college readiness.
The mayor agreed there is a problem when the graduation rate is around 70 percent in the city but the college readiness rate is 30 percent.
He wants to close the gap with 3-K for All and by making sure every high school has at least five Advanced Placement courses.
Middle schools will also have free after-school programs and go on college visits.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose
©2017 Community News Group
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