In January, Mayor Bill de Blasio released the city’s $84.67 billion preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which starts on July 1, 2017. The City Council will then negotiate with the Mayor’s Office to reach a final budget during the summer.
Along the way, each borough and each of the city’s 59 community boards can comment on the budget priorities, which are divided into capital improvements and expense items.
The top capital budget priority, which include infrastructure projects, is to build new sewer systems in CB5, which covers Maspeth, Glendale, Middle Village and Ridgewood.
“We’ve had a lot of flooding problems,” said CB5 district manager Gary Giordano.
Two projects are already funded and underway – the $29 million project on Calamus Avenue and 69th Street and the $22 million project on Penelope Avenue and 74th Street.
“One of the main things we need to do now is to find solutions to flooding problems in the Glendale area,” Giordano added.
The next items on the priorities list include installing new catch basins, planting new trees and removing tree stumps, improving pedestrian and traffic safety near Grand Avenue and 69th Street, and checking the M train line for any deterioration or lead paint.
Sixth on the capital budget priorities is phase two of the Ridgewood Reservoir reconstruction. The first phase, funded for $7 million, installed new lighting, surfaces and fencing around the Glendale reservoir. The
“We haven’t seen many problems or vandalism there,” Giordano said. “If you can go there, it’s the nicest piece of space anywhere near here.”
Another priority for CB5 is getting new locomotives for Glendale’s freight yard at Fresh Pond Yards. Two of the 12 locomotives have already been replaced, the district manager said, which has made a difference.
“They have been big polluters,” Giordano said. “Already we’ve seen the situation is better for the people living anywhere near the freight rail line.”
Rounding out the ten budget priorities are reconstructing the Glendale library to include handicap accessibility, constructing a park adjacent to the Department of Environment Protection (DEP) facility near Newtown Creek, and reconstructing the synthetic soccer field and running track at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village.
“Both the soccer field and the running track are past their useful life, the soccer field is in especially poor condition,” Giordano said. “Soccer groups make extensive use of that.”
He noted that Frank Principe Park in Maspeth is also getting a new synthetic soccer field and two softball fields. But until that construction project is complete, Juniper Valley Park’s fields will be one of the few soccer areas left in the district.
The first priority for the fiscal year’s expense budget is getting at least 20 more police officers in the 104th Precinct. Giordano said the cop count in the precinct is down at least 30 officers since 2000.
Other top expense items include the cleaning of catch basins and flushing of sewer lines, adding more building inspectors to root out illegal construction and over-occupancy, and tree pruning and parks maintenance.
The last expense budget priority is senior citizens and youth programs. Giordano said he believed the drastic crime reduction New York City has seen over the last 30 years has been due to not just an “outstanding job” by the NYPD, but also funding for youth programs.
“Funding for those youth programs is keeping kids off the streets, giving an alternative to getting into trouble,” he said. “It has been a big, great investment.”
Giordano expressed some concerns regarding cuts to major departments in the mayor’s preliminary budget.
That includes $36 million from the Department for the Aging, $117 million from the Department of Youth and Community Development, $436 million from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), $360 million from the Department of Environmental Protection, $52 million from the Parks Department, and $492 million to the Department of Design and Construction.
The cuts to HPD’s budget was detrimental, Giordano said, because Ridgewood residents are facing problems with harassment.
“We need enough inspectors and legal services to prevent what’s going on in a lot of Ridgewood,” he said. “That’s new landlords buying buildings for a lot of money and trying to push tenants who have been living there for a long, long time out.
“If HPD’s budget is cut that much,” he added, “that’s big trouble.”