Public Advocate James Talks Development In Astoria

BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Staff Writer

Public Advocate Letitia James visited Hallets Cove Playground last weekend.

Public Advocate Letitia James visited Hallets Cove Playground last weekend.

Public Advocate Letitia James stopped by Hallets Cove playground on Saturday, where community volunteers were giving the grounds a facelift. Hallets Cove playground serves the residents of NYCHA’s Astoria Houses. Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) hosted a cleanup event attended by representatives of Partnerships for Parks and Goodwill Industries, where Astoria Houses residents and other volunteers swept the ground and painted benches.

Constantinides also took James on a tour of Hallets Cove alongside Claudia Coger, president of the Astoria Houses Residents Association.

James said that this visit was her first to the peninsula and she was struck by the view. “This is a jewel,” James said. “This is a hidden secret.” Both James and Constantinides shared their vision for ferry service between Hallets Cove and Manhattan, which they believe would be an asset to the area and its residents.

The City Council approved Lincoln Equities’ $1 billion Hallets Point development last October, and committed $500,000 to a study on the feasibility of bringing ferry service to Hallets Cove.

As a councilwoman in Brooklyn, James said, she represented many NYCHA residents, and thus believes in “planning from the bottom up.” Part of this mentality, she said, involves creating opportunities for local labor as development progresses along the Astoria waterfront.

For her part, Coger said that she knows some fellow residents wonder “how [Lincoln Equities’ development] will affect them that already live there.” However, she said she does not share those concerns, adding, “where there’s money, there’s strength.” In the meantime, cleanup volunteers said they hope the cove receives more attention like the playground beautification, which might in turn increase residents’ interaction with the waterfront. “We know that we’re sitting on prime property,” Coger said.

Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext.128, jstrawbridge@queenstribune.com or @JNStrawbridge.