2011-03-16 / Front Page

Senior Housing, Appliance Disposal Discussed At Board 1 Cabinet Meeting

By Thomas Cogan

A chain of organizational representatives spoke at the March meeting of the Community Board 1 cabinet, covering topics from affordable senior housing to pothole repair.  In the third floor boardroom of Kaufman Astoria Studios, attendees also heard about how to get paid to get rid of old appliances; a funds crisis at the Floating Hospital, and country things one can do in the city, including pickling, composting and raising live chickens.  The fate of the KAS commissary, where the Board 1 cabinet previously held its monthly meetings, was revealed.
HANAC Director of Development John Napolitano had visited the cabinet meeting in December to speak of the apartment house to be built on the site where a church once stood at 33rd Street near 31st Avenue.  He returned in March with significant details.  He said that the building would contain 56 studio apartments and nine one-bedroom apartments.  The minimum entry age for a resident and head of household would be 62.  That requirement is firm, with no exceptions, even for the disabled.  Since this is so-called affordable housing, the maximum threshold income for a studio would be $27,750 annually, and for a one-bedroom a little over $31,000.  All residents would qualify for Section 8 subsidies.  No one is eligible for residency who holds more than $250,000 in liquid assets.  Studio apartments would be limited to one-person occupancy and one-bedroom apartments to two persons.  The building will have an indoor garage with spaces for 11 vehicles.  Applications for any of the 65 apartments will be accepted beginning some time in May.  Napolitano was asked if public housing residents would be ineligible to apply.  He said no, adding that in fact, those on public housing waiting lists get preference.
Jay-E Emmingham of NYSERDA, the state agency devoted to energy saving, and Art Cronson of Con Edison were at the meeting to discuss ways of getting better use of electric appliances.  Cronson announced that anyone can schedule a free pickup of an old but still operable refrigerator or air conditioner and not only will Con Ed make the pickup but also will pay the owner $25.  To schedule a pickup, call 1-800-430-9505.
Stephanos Koullias of the Western Queens Composting Initiative said that while composting is not for everyone it should gain in popularity in the coming years as more people become aware of the perils of landfill garbage.  The local drop-off point from spring to fall is Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Boulevard.  When asked what becomes of all these fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, eggshells and gristle, Koullias said that when it is broken down naturally, WQCI transports it on Worksman [sic] Tricycles built in Ozone Park to community gardens. One woman asked if WQCI could handle all the compost it received and Koullias said certainly. The woman approved, since she lives near the park and didn’t want any excess attracting pests.   Astoria activist Ed Velez asked Koullias if there was any danger of rats getting into the compost. Koullias answered that the compost is kept in thick plastic barrels that rats might not enjoy chewing through.
Sean Leonardo, managing director of Socrates Sculpture Park, praised Koullias and WQCI before announcing some Socrates events.  These include Socrates Academy, Skills for Resourceful City Living, a series of 10 free workshops to be conducted from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in June. The first one is about urban composting; container gardening, candle making, pickling vegetables and soap making follow.  On Sunday, June 19, the topic is raising chickens in the city, which Leonardo said is legal, despite doubts raised by Velez. Others began to giggle at the thought of being chicken farmers (or perhaps raising gamecocks) in the city.  Registration for the workshops began Monday, March 14; call 718-856-1819. 
Cynthia Davis of the Floating Hospital, which has been serving people ill and in need since the mid-19th century, was at the meeting to say that the FH received $1.3 million in stimulus money in 2009, but that money has run out.  The FH, located at 27th Street near Queens Plaza North, is now on a fundraising campaign for the purchase of transportation vehicles to transport clientele from their residences to its healthcare facilities.  She said the FH would like to make transportation to and from health care so easy that no one could refuse it.
Felix Okolo of the Department of Transportation was at the meeting to deliver the pothole report.  The current pothole program runs to the end of April as DOT attempts to deal with the crisis caused by exceptionally heavy snowfall and rainfall during the winter.  A woman recalled seeing a pothole filled near where she lives, only to see it deteriorate almost immediately.  Velez said he had heard that DOT was mixing ground-up glass with asphalt and wondered if that mixture was strong enough, especially when it encountered salt on the roadway.  Jerry Walsh of the Dutch Kills Civic Association said that when the roadway on 40th Avenue between 28th and 29th Streets collapsed, the repair was good as far as it went.  But the repair wasn’t finished and currently  the roadway has a gaping hole that should be filled to complete the task.  Okolo said that when DOT is apprised of potholes a repair schedule is made for them and they should be repaired within a period of 10 to 30 days.  He directed his listeners to look at the DOT’s blog, The Daily Pothole, at thedailypothole.tumblr.com.
Tracy Capune of KSA told the meeting that the old commissary on 36th Street near 35th Avenue has been turned into a restaurant, the Astor Room, by a second generation member of the Piccola Venezia ownership; Piccola Venezia, at 42-01 28th Ave., considered in some quarters to be one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the city.  
Velez announced that his photographs will be exhibited on Monday, March 22 at the Long Island City Library, 21st Street and 37th Avenue.

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