Back in early December when Donovan Richards was formally sworn in as Queens Borough President by New York State Attorney General Letitia James at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens after taking over 67% of the vote during November’s General Election, it was the chance to make history.
Not only was Richards elected as the first Black man to serve as Queens Borough President, but the election provided a breath of fresh air in Queens through the thick of the on-going Coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to Richards that turning of the tide has included a big focus on improving neighborhoods, communities, and creating opportunities through athletics and sports over the past 7 months, a major accomplishment to hang his hat on leading into Tuesday’s Primary Election in New York City.
Last week, Richards announced at the “Junior Home Run Derby” event for kids in East Elmhurst that he has allocated $5 million toward a new facility in Astoria planned for the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens. The new facility expected to be completed in 2026 will allow the Boys and Girls Club to serve substantially more children and include Queens’ first planetarium, a 1,000-seat basketball arena, Olympic-sized swimming pool, and educational rooms dedicated to art, music, dance, and STEM. The renovations on the 65-year old building will also feature 200 affordable housing units.
“This $5 million allocation is about much more than the construction of a new physical space with state-of-the-art amenities,” Richards explained.
“It’s about investing in the health of our children and the future of our borough.”
The news follows a previous announcement made by Donovan Richards in late May that he’ll allocate $4.5 million toward campus upgrades at four public colleges in the borough, split between Queens College, York College, Queensborough Community College and LaGuardia Community College. Each campus is in need of upgrades, that include improving athletics and physical therapy facilities with York College allocated $1 million to renovate its outdoor track and LaGuardia Community College will receive $1.25 million for construction that includes LCC’s physical therapy lab. Elected officials gathered on June 16 at Queens College for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Division 2 college’s soccer field and track renovation project that allocates $9.3 million for the modernization of the outdoor sports facility projected to be completed in early 2022.
“We don’t play second fiddle to any other boroughs. In Queens County, we want every CUNY campus to have state-of-the-art everything,” said Richards.
“And it’s one of the reasons we announced $4.5 million for CUNY institutions across the borough a few weeks ago, and that’s just the beginning of what we’re gonna do.”
For the borough of Queens, it’s the start of good things to come for not only student-athletes and youth athletics, but in general for the community itself.
It’s an area Ballin 4 Peace knows all too well.
Part of that transformation back in December included Ballin 4 Peace Founder, Haron Hargrave, being named to Queens Borough President Donovan Richards' 130-person transition team. Made up of 14 committees, the group of advisers includes a diverse range of interests ranging from government, to nonprofit leaders, and community activists. For the transition team, the policy issues addressed at the time included committees on immigration, community boards, education, transportation, economic development, seniors and veterans affairs, youth and a committee dedicated to tourism, arts, parks, entertainment and sports.
That’s where Ballin 4 Peace comes into play by extending their message to a movement by spreading community peace through sports the past 7 years by teaming-up with the likes of the NYPD, Queens Community House, Housing Works & Youth Prevention Services, Student Sponsor Partners, Children’s AID of New York, and New York City Parks among others.
“We know very well the energy, efforts, and work that goes into providing community outreach through sports, so to see the opportunities the Borough President is creating through extending funding to the Boys and Girls Club and CUNY is commendable and inspiring,” said Ballin 4 Peace Founder, Haron Hargrave.
“It’s encouraging to see this kind of development and growth in such a short amount of time and makes us excited for what is yet to come in Queens.”