2011-04-20 / Front Page

Queens Plaza Parking Still Rankles At Dutch Kills Civic

By Thomas Cogan

Lieutenant Nicholas Morales of the 114th Police Precinct had a 28-day report to lead off April’s meeting of the Dutch Kills Civic Association. He was followed by Art Cronson of Con Edison, then by two women from Young Adults with Special Abilities (YASA), describing the latest version of a proposed apartment building on 31st Street that is to include units for developmentally disabled persons and their families. Other matters discussed included a gift of trees from JetBlue, to be handed out in early May; It’s My Park Day, later that same month, and a recollection by DKCA President Jerry Walsh of his visit to the April meeting of Community Board 2, where the matter of parking facilities in the Queens Plaza area was being discussed.
Walsh reported that he and George Stamatiades attended the April meeting of Community Board 2 and expressed their distress about the city Economic Development Corporation’s plan to reduce the number of parking spots in the new Gotham Center building on Queens Plaza South from 1,150 to 550, with 162 of them designated to the new building’s sole occupant, the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He said that the residential and hotel building on either side of the plaza is so large that there is a need for more parking space, not less of it. He was glad Board 2 voted to retain the 1,150 number, which was ordered by the City Council when the plan for a building to replace the municipal parking garage at the corner of Queens Plaza South and Jackson Avenue (which had 1,150 parking places) was announced a decade ago.
Morales reported that the general level of crime in the 114th Precinct declined by 20 percent recently. Street crimes have been bothersome, but of the 27 reported during the period, 21 have been concluded with arrests. The lieutenant said that another miscreant apprehended recently had been stealing side view mirrors from automobiles, not for the first time. He cited the arrest of a housebreaker as a warning against leaving fire escape windows unprotected or leaving valuables such as laptops in plain view, allowing such a person to grab something and be out the door in less than a minute. He was asked about the frequency of homicide, the inquirer having in mind some killings in the Queensbridge Houses. The lieutenant said that Queensbridge might have more murders than any other locality within the precinct, but it is the largest public housing project in the United States and compares well with others.
Cronson, a Con Ed public affairs officer, repeated the company’s offer to take away unwanted but operable refrigerators and air conditioners and pay the homeowner $25; for more information, call 1-800-430-9505. Another number, 1-877-870-6118, is the source of information about converting from oil heating to natural gas, a conversion that could gain a homeowner as much as $52,000. He was asked about the source of that natural gas, the inquirer being concerned about the controversial hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, method employed to bring natural gas from underground in New York, Pennsylvania and other eastern states. Cronson said Con Ed gets its natural gas from Oklahoma and Louisiana, and not, so far as he knows, by fracking. He ended with a warning about a telephone fraud alerting homeowners that their power is about to be shut off if they do not mail a certain sum to a provided address, where it will be processed and sent to Con Ed. Hang up on it, he advised.
Two women representing YASA came to the meeting to speak again about the housing plan proposed at 36-43/45 31st St., though with slightly altered figures than those announced at the DKCA meeting in February. What is now proposed to keep developmentally disabled young people and their families together is integration of 12 two-bedroom apartments among the total of 32 apartments to be built on the four-story 31st Street site. The families would be chosen by lottery from all over Queens, while residents for the 20 other apartments would come from Astoria, the YASA women said. The questioning from the meeting attendees seemed mainly concerned with the fact that only 12 places were for the developmentally disabled, when it might have been 16, or an even split with the other units. There was also a question of what becomes of an apartment should its developmentally disabled resident die, leaving the family in place but effectively subtracting a special unit; or the inevitable question of parking facilities. DKCA members voted their approval or disapproval of the plan, despite the fact that the building is as-of-right and can be put up anyway. The vote was 40 in favor and one against the plan, with two abstentions.
Walsh said that JetBlue, the airline moving into the MetLife Building on Queens Plaza North, is giving away trees to residents for planting on their property (though not in front of anyone’s house, since that is city property), the giveaway date being Saturday, May 7 and the location being the parking lot of Astoria Park at 19th Street and Hoyt Avenue North, beside the RFK Triborough Bridge. Walsh advised that these are sizable trees, not saplings that can be planted in a 45-gallon drum and are meant for back and side yards, where they can develop roots. Two weeks later, on Saturday, May 21, It’s My Park Day will be held and Walsh is seeking volunteers to help him do the annual clean-up of Dutch Kills Playground at 36th Avenue and Crescent Street. It should take up several hours of the day but there will also be break time and pizza would be ordered, he said.

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