Cashless Tolling Begins on Rockaway Bridges

Cashless tolling will begin on the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial and Cross Bay Veterans Bridges starting at 3 a.m. on Sunday, April 30th. Cashless tolling will reduce congestion and improve travel time at Rockaway’s major crossings ahead of the region’s summer travel season. Starting tomorrow, cash and metal tokens will no longer be accepted at either bridge and commuters with leftover bridge tokens are encouraged to transition to E-Z Pass and will be eligible to redeem their tokens for a refund. The Rockaway resident rebate program is unaffected by the switch to cashless tolling.

“Cashless tolling will reduce congestion, improve safety and streamline commutes on these vital arteries, providing much-needed relief to the Rockaway community and ensuring smooth travel during the summer season,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is a critical milestone and a major component of our work to upgrade, improve and reimagine New York City’s crossings for the 21st century.”

Approximately 840,000 vehicles cross MTA bridges and tunnels each day. Cashless tolling, which is expected to be completed at each MTA crossing this year, is projected to save individual commuters up to 21 hours of drive time every year. Additionally, it reduces emissions affecting local communities and significantly decreases the amount of fuel burned by drivers, who will no longer have to stop and start waiting to pay tolls. This will conserve approximately one million gallons of fuel and save $2.3 million each year.

Open road tolling will be completed at all MTA bridges and tunnels by the end of this year. The schedule is as follows:

RFK Bridge – Summer 2017
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge – Summer 2017
Throgs Neck Bridge – Fall 2017
Bronx-Whitestone Bridge – Fall 2017

The Rockaway Bridges join the Henry Hudson Bridge and the Hugh L. Carey and Queens Midtown Tunnels, where sensors and cameras suspended over the highway on structures known as “gantries” read E-ZPass tags and take license plate images, so vehicles no longer have to stop and pay the toll. Vehicles with E-ZPass tags are automatically charged, and vehicles without E-ZPass have their license plate recorded and a bill is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. E-ZPass tags should be mounted inside the vehicle’s front windshield.

Read more here


Channel View High School Ranked Top 75 In NYC

By Jeffrey Williams-Maisonet

According to’s best high schools list, Channel View High School for Research is ranked 67th amongst 75 other high schools across New York City.

Giving the reputation that Rockaway has about low-performing schools, this sheds a little light on how a struggling community can still shell out good grades. Just last year- Scholars Academy was ranked 5th on Department of Education’s rankings.

Those rankings currently unavailable for 2017.

However, none the less, Rockaway can say they have one of the city’s brightest students in their community.

Read more and see who else made the list here.


Pheffer Amato Helps Open Beach 59th Street Playground for 2017 Summer Season

The following is a statement from Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer-Amato on the reopening of the legendary and iconic Friends of Beach 59th Street Playground. The playground has existed for over 4o years on the peninsula.


This past Saturday, April 22nd, 2017, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway) joined Queens Borough Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski in officially opening the Beach 59th Street Playground for the 2017 summer season. “This is such a beautiful park,” said Pheffer Amato. “Our home is 30 blocks from here; we often come here with our two kids. I got to talk to the Commissioner about our district Parks priorities for this coming year, and I met with some great neighbors. Saturday reinforced for me how central our beautiful and versatile Parks are to our lives on the Rockaway Peninsula.”


1 Million Dollar School Kitchen Wins PB 31.

By Jeffrey Williams-Maisonet

The results are in for cycle six of City Council district 31 Participatory Budgeting.

A brief description of how Participatory Budgeting works before results.

Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It’s a grassroots democracy. It helps make budget decisions clear and accessible. It gives real power to people who have never before been involved in the political process before.

Here are your winners. The current Budget is 2 million dollars this cycle.

PS 132Q nearly sweeps all the money. One Rockaway school should get funded.



Your weekly update every Saturday is here.

EDC has wonderful announcements about a new crew that will help direct our NYC Ferry Captains starting May 1st. That, and many more exciting announcements below.

Be sure to log on to weekly for your updates.

NYC Ferry
This week in NYC Ferry news, WNYC reported on NYCEDC’s ferry naming competition. Check out the winners in this video!

NBC New York reported from SUNY Maritime in the Bronx as they received a sneak peak of a high-tech simulator used to train NYC Ferry captains.

NYC Ferry service Rockaway route will begin Monday, May 1. Also, check out videos and pictures of the ferry boats making it up the coast to New York City!

Graffiti-Free NYC
This week, Bronx News 12 reported on the work of the Graffiti- Free NYC crew in Port Morris. Graffiti-Free NYC is the first full-time, street-by-street graffiti removal service in New York City and is a cooperative effort between NYCEDC, the New York City Department of Sanitation, and the Office of the Mayor.

Learn more on requesting graffiti removal service here.

Are smart clothes the next digital health breakthrough?
Technically Brooklyn reports that Bonbouton has been selected as part of NYCEDC’s Digital Health Breakthrough Network.

Bonbouton specializes in making clothes that help monitor skin temperature, heart rate, sweating, and muscle motion. The company, based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, will receive support in designing and conducting pilot studies that gauge their products’ commercial potential.
News of the Week

Jamaica FEASTS
Are you an entrepreneur? Apply to the Jamaica Food Entrepreneurship and Services Training Space (FEASTS) program. Jamaica FEASTS provides resources, training, workspace, and more for entrepreneurs to help start or grow their businesses. The registration deadline is Friday, April 14. Call the Queens Library at 718.990.0895.

City Hall in Your Borough: Staten Island
Mayor de Blasio is wrapping up a successful week in Staten Island as part of City Hall in Your Borough. On Monday, NYCEDC President & CEO James Patchett attended a cabinet meeting with Mayor de Blasio and key agency leaders.

On Tuesday, NYCEDC attended the Interagency Resource Fair and spoke with dozens of community members about the exciting work taking place in Staten Island.
Finally on Thursday, the team was happy to join the Mayor at the Mayor’s North Shore Town Hall with Council Member Debi Rose to hear directly from constituents and connect them with City resources.

Downtown Staten Island Brochure
Hot off the presses, we released the Downtown Staten Island brochure to the public, highlighting the more than $1.6 billion in public and private investment in Staten Island’s North Shore. Read about the brochure in the Staten Island Advance and ConstructionDIVE. To learn more, contact or visit

NYC Department of Transportation
How do you move around New York City? Help the New York City Department of Transportation understand your needs by sharing where you go, how you travel, and what you would do to make the system even better. Click here to take the survey.

Futureworks NYC Grant Awarded to Staten Island Makerspace
On Wednesday, the Mayor’s Office and NYCEDC announced that Staten Island MakerSpace, a nonprofit community workshop and co-working space, would receive $50,000 through the City’s Futureworks NYC initiative. The funding will enable Staten Island MakerSpace to purchase new advanced manufacturing equipment. Read more about Staten Island MakerSpace in the Staten Island Advance.

Applications are now open for the International Innovators Initiative (IN2NYC), an NYCEDC program created to help international entrepreneurs build their businesses in New York City and create jobs for New Yorkers. Apply here!
NYCEDC In Your Neighborhood

Helping Nonprofits Understand Leasing & Acquisition
Many New York City nonprofits have difficulty securing suitable workspace and are struggling with the financial, organizational, and legal obstacles of major real estate projects. We’re here to help.
NYCEDC, in partnership with Denham Wolf Real Estate Services and the Nonprofit Finance Fund, is presenting a lecture series to empower New York City nonprofits to successfully engage in leasing and acquisition processes. Register today!

Participants will gain a high-level understanding of:
Real estate deal structures
Opportunities for financing real estate projects
Methods for undertaking large projects
Leasing and acquisition fundamentals
And much more
For any questions, please contact

New York City is leading the Northeast in solar panel installations. According to City Lab, “In 2016, the number of residential projects across the five boroughs rose to more than 5,300 from 186 in 2011—the majority being located in Staten Island and Queens.”

We’re looking for partners to participate in Solarize NYC. For questions, contact us at

City Seeking Developer for Mixed-Use Site at 11-24 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City
NYCEDC, in partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is seeking proposals from qualified developers for the sale and redevelopment of 11-24 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens. The site spans over 58,000 square feet and is an opportunity to create a thriving mixed-use and mixed-income development with ground floor retail, a community facility, and much-needed open space. Contact us for more information.

To download a copy of the solicitation documents, please visit the RFP page. The submission deadline is 4:00pm Friday, April 21, 2017.

Developing: Shots fired at Arverne View. Building on Lockdown.

By Jeffrey Williams-Maisonet

Reports came in that shots were fired at 146 Beach 59th Street around 10:45 am.

According to NYPD, a female was seen with a firearm around 57-15 Shorefront Parkway making her way to 146.

Bullet casing was found in the parking lot of the Arverne View apartment complex near the alleged crime scene. NYPD has barricaded the building on the complex at this moment.

The suspect was seen fleeing towards 146 and found on Arverne View’s camera equipment into an unknown apartment.

We will update you as this story continues to develop.


Pheffer Amato Successfully Defends “Rockaway Rebate:” “Next Year, We Must Make the Bridge Free for All”

The following is from the office of Stacey Pheffer-Amato’s concerning Crossbay Bridge Toll.


Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway) today thanked Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Leadership of both houses “for their leadership in continuing, for another year, the ‘Rockaway Rebate,’” which reimburses Rockaway Peninsula and Broad Channel residents for trips across the Cross Bay Bridge to and from mainland Queens. “This rebate program is crucial for our residents, a no-brainer for our economy and the very least New York State can do to deal with the unfairness of the only same-borough toll in NYC.

“Meanwhile, residents of Southern Queens often need to pay a two-way toll to work, go shopping or meet friends or family mere minutes from their house,” she continued. “Not to mention, the inequitable and outmoded toll keeps tourists from easy access to New York City’s only real extended beachfront, costing us millions every year in tourism. This toll is outmoded, has outlived its original stated purpose of paying for the bridge, and hinders the economy.

“That’s why I am calling for this toll to be completely abolished in next year’s State Budget,” Pheffer Amato said. “I submitted a budget request this year for the Rockaway Rebate to at least apply to all Queens residents, but the toll doesn’t make sense and our goal is to do away with it for good.

“Intra-borough tolls don’t make sense. Tolls to drive five miles to work, play, pray or shop don’t make sense. I’m absolutely certain the cost of ending this inequitable, onerous toll would be made up several times over the freedom and ease of access it would bring to the Rockaway Peninsula,” the Assemblywoman concluded.

Sanders Says Trump’s ‘Coal’-hearted view hurts the environment


There is a Native American proverb that says: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” It’s just another way of saying we should be doing all we can to protect the environment, not only for ourselves, but for future generations. The district I represent has acres of parkland and wildlife inhabited areas such as Jamaica Bay and Idlewild Park Preserve, and under those conditions, I try to be ecologically conscious.
My office regularly hosts events to help residents recycle paper, plastic, and electronics and gives away rain barrels to facilitate the re-use of water. I also fully support the NYC Department of Sanitation’s Organics Recycling Program. Composting organic materials like vegetable matter, eggshells, coffee grinds or tea bags can, over time, produce a soil rich in vitamins that can grow healthy plants and ward off harmful pests.

President Donald Trump, however, does not appear to be too concerned with protecting the environment, as demonstrated by his recent decision to scrap President Obama’s Stream Protection Rule, stringent restrictions on dumping by surface coal mines, the kind that require whole mountain tops be removed and dumped elsewhere, usually in adjoining valleys and streams.

Under the Stream Protection Rule, companies have been required to survey the environmental conditions in valleys before dumping, and restore these valleys and their waterways to their pre-dumping state after finishing. Since full restoration is often impossible, the rule makes mining many existing coal reservoirs uneconomical.

While some might argue that this has killed jobs, the truth is that coal has been on its way out for years due to competition from cheaper and cleaner natural gas. Federal regulators agree that the Obama rule will eliminate 124 jobs between now and 2040, a small return on investment considering surface mine valley dumping completely destroys miles of natural streams. Waterways adding up to more than three times the length of the Potomac River have already been permanently filled by such activities. That is not to mention the accumulation of toxic selenium in local wildlife and the outright destruction of countless fish and birds by the dumps themselves.

We are talking about filling in entire valleys – the effects are, for all intents and purposes, permanent. And, of course, the effects of burning coal are extreme, boosting both atmospheric carbon and environmental toxicity. The particles can travel far from their original location and potentially cause acid rain. Even if the rule were intended as a backdoor to cutting coal mining, that can hardly be seen as a detrimental side effect.

Coal mining operations can contaminate waterways where people go swimming and fishing, as well as drinking water. We have to ensure that regulations are in place, like the Stream Protection Rule, to guard against pollution while preserving public health.



Here are a few updates from the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) for our borough of Queens and much of the five boroughs. Updates consist of NYC Ferry, the opening of Coney Island, and much more.

Be sure to check out every Saturday for your weekly updates.

NYCEDC to Award Nearly $80 Million in Projects to M/W/DBE Construction Management Firms
The Observer reported on NYCEDC’s announcement that it is entering retainer contracts with Minority, Women-Owned, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (M/W/DBE) firms Noble Strategy, Armand, and McKissack and McKissack to oversee projects valued at nearly $80 million as part of the ConstructNYC program.
Digital Health Marketplace
As reported in State Scoop and Government Technology, NYCEDC announced the 2017 launch of our signature digital health initiatives to support both growth-stage and early-stage startups and grow the digital health sector in New York City.

NYCEDC’s Digital Heath Marketplace, in partnership with Health 2.0, will award $250,000 this year to help growth-stage health tech startups pilot their technologies in healthcare institutions.

NYCEDC, in partnership with HITLAB, is also announcing the selection of four companies to participate in the Digital Health Breakthrough Network an initiative for early-stage startups to test their products with end-users and strengthen their connection to New York City’s healthcare and technology sectors.

Coney Island Opens for the 2017 Season
Join the opening day festivities at Coney Island on Sunday, April 9! NYCEDC President James Patchett will speak at 11:30am at the newly refurbished Coney Island Cyclone.

Read more about it in AM New York.
Bedford Union Armory 
Geoffrey Davis, 43rd Assembly Democratic District Leader, shared his views on the Bedford Union Armory Project in Kings County Politics. “We have a chance to transform the Bedford-Union Armory into a quality recreational center that will finally give our young people the safe space and programs they need to explore their passions.”

Rev. Dr. Daryl G. Bloodsaw, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, asked the Crown Heights community to unify and work together to revitalize the Bedford-Union Armory.  “If we kill the deal, we won’t get any more affordable housing. We will get nothing.” Read his full statement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
NYC Department of Transportation
How do you move around New York City? Help the New York City Department of Transportation understand your needs by sharing where you go, how you travel, and what you would do to make the system even better. Click here to take the survey.
Applications are now open for the International Innovators Initiative (IN2NYC), an NYCEDC program created to help international entrepreneurs build their businesses in New York City and create jobs for New Yorkers. Apply here!
Futureworks NYC
Are you a startup looking to scale and connect with local NYC supply chains? Whether you’re prototyping the next invention, preparing for crowdfunding or just closed a Series A, Futureworks Incubator is for you.

Futureworks NYC is a key component of the mayor’s Industrial Action Plan to help to emerge and existing manufacturers adopt advanced technologies and increase local production. Applications close April 10, 2017, apply here.
New York City is leading the Northeast in solar panel installations. According to City Lab, “In 2016, the number of residential projects across the five boroughs rose to more than 5,300 from 186 in 2011—the majority being located in Staten Island and Queens.”

Are you interested in going solar? We’re looking for community partners, businesses, and community development corporations to participate in Solarize NYC, a citywide initiative to expand solar. For any questions, email us at