Tree Pickup, Shopping Security Discussed At Board 1 Cabinet
The December meeting of the Community Board 1 cabinet took up familiar holiday and end-of-year themes, but all of them had either something new about them or something that could be repeated profitably. Board 1 District Manager Lucille Hartmann called on the police to make a report and the Fire, Sanitation and Parks Departments to do likewise. A local theatrical group and the group that deals with incarcerated women and their children also addressed the gathering at Kaufman Astoria Studios.
Bill Doak of the Department of Sanitation talked about the holiday season by going past it to the days of early January, when hundreds of Christmas trees that were perhaps not yet even bought as he spoke would be thrown out. He said that Sanitation’s formal tree removal period would be from Monday, January 4 through Saturday, January 16. During that time, Doak reported, a number of trucks dedicated to picking up discarded trees and carrying them to a mulching center would be active in the sanitation district.
He said that residents discarding trees should put them at the curb after making sure that tinsel and other decorative materials are removed. Trees should not be packed in plastic bags, he added, or, indeed, any other container.
Trees could be placed at the curb even on non-pickup days, though a truck might not pick them up until a sufficient number had accumulated on the block. All would be taken away by January 16; any discarded after that date would be at the curb until some truck and its crew could find time to take them away. The same topic of tree mulching was the subject of the brief Parks Department report by Macceau Medozile, departmental representative to Board 1, who said that for those not content to discard their trees at curbside, there would be a weekend mulching operation, conducted by the department in Astoria Park on Saturday and Sunday, January 9 and 10.
Patrol Officer Eddie Negron, public affairs officer for the 114th Precinct, warned shoppers as usual not to leave gifts and goods on display in their automobiles, exposing themselves to theft by persons who might be on the lookout for such folly. He cited the case of a thief who was recently operating in the parking lot of the Costco store on Vernon Boulevard. He said also that there would be an increased police presence in the neighborhood during the holidays, especially on New Year’s Eve. He also warned that precinct officers would “hammer down” on public drinking, excessive noisemaking and, of course, drunken driving. He had planned to introduce P.O. Jackie Keating, designated his successor as the precinct’s public affairs officer, but she was in court that morning to provide trial testimony, he said.
Another officer, P.O. Johnson of PSA 9 in the Ravenswood Houses, said that gangs of youth are known to trawl for victims, particularly elderly ones, during the holiday season. He said that cringing or lowering one’s head at their approach only makes assault seem easy, while making steady eye contact might put them off. He also told homeowners that if they must have candles on their Christmas trees, please make them electric ones. But, added Thomas Ballard of the Fire Department, be sure any electric devices for use during the holiday are reliable ones and not low-priced items from countries one seldom hears of. Ballard also had a warning about smoke detectors, saying that those in use more than seven years should probably be replaced, since they might be worn out despite their ability to flash their operational lights. Smoke detectors of any age function best with a twice-yearly change of batteries, he recommended. And smoke detectors, unlike carbon monoxide detectors, must be attached to the ceiling to be significantly effective, he concluded.
Kelly Phelan was in jail a few years ago and now directs Hour Children, dedicated to the problem not only of incarcerated women but their children also. She told the meeting that she constantly looks for persons who can join her program as mentors to women who are in jail or recently released. She interviews them and gets all who sign on to commit to at least four hours of mentoring per month, for a term lasting a year.
Taryn Drongowski, director of Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC), told the meeting that among APAC’s plans for the coming year is a musical called “Children of Eden”, written by Stephen Schwartz, creator of “Wicked”. She called it “the biggest show we’ve ever done”, which would thus be bigger than the production of “Ragtime” that had sold-out performances in Astoria last year. It is on schedule to open in May, also, of course, in Astoria. In addition, Drongowski was pleased to announce that APAC finally has an office of its own, after improvising for several years. Most fittingly, she said, it is on the first floor of the Kaufman Studios building.