Board 2 Hears Of Hurricane Season Advisory, Bike Share Program
The June meeting of Community Board 2 opened with Mitchell Bass of the city Office of Emergency Management (OEM) reminding board members and area residents that the hurricane season is already here, even though it is commonly associated with August and September. He said that some parts of the Board 2 district are in hurricane evacuation zones. He also said that the OEM has free-of-charge lectures about hurricane evacuation and how best to endure such an emergency. OEM information is available at www.nyc.gov/oem and www.nyc.gov/readyny.
New York city Department of Transportation Queens Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy introduced Kate Fillin-Yeh, director of the DOT Bike Share Program, who was accompanied by a team that ran a pictorial display as she spoke about the plan for a share network of 10,000 bicycles at 600 stations throughout Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. All of this is funded by the private sector and sponsored by Citicorp. Alta Bicycle Share, a Portland, Oregon company, is the operator. The bikes, Fillin-Yeh said, are uniform and specially designed for this program, which is in operation internationally. They are heavy and have three speeds. Each has a basket and bell and lights up automatically when in motion. The city will impose a license fee of $95 annually. When checked out of a docking station, a bike can be ridden for free for 45 minutes, after which a slight fee kicks in. Fillin-Yeh said that the placing of docking stations is not necessarily a matter of permanence, since they can be moved to more desirable and practical spots to better meet demand. A 31-station dock will be located in Long Island City, near the ferry, and other locations could include Vernon Boulevard, MoMA/P.S. 1 and Queens Plaza, she said. GPS and radio frequencies are on all bikes, and the docking stations are “smart” and wired.
Board member Carol Terrano, a Woodside resident, maintains that automobile drivers must be licensed and insured and are liable for injuries committed on pedestrians, other drivers—and bike riders. In contrast, bicyclists are not comparably responsible. Al Volpe, another board member, hoped the docking stations could be put in no-parking zones or anywhere they would not be taking parking spaces away from drivers. Terrano finally said that the bike share plan has been imposed on the public by those who believe they know what the public needs and brook no disagreement.
For the third straight month, Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ spokespeople related that TF Cornerstone, which has built two residential towers at 46-30 and 47-20 Center Blvd. along the East River in Hunters Point, refuses to recognize their union and will not offer training by which workers might become qualified for a better job in the system and improve their status. One representative put it simply: without training for advancement, “I’m a porter for life.” Lenore Friedlander, a 32BJ vice president, again spoke to the meeting, to say that in 70 years, her union has established a good relationship with most employers it has dealt with. She said that she and the union seek “good jobs and labor peace”. The strongest voice for the union was that of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who arrived late , stressing the cause of 32BJ. He said the board must pass a resolution favoring the right of 32BJ to form a union if it can get a majority of its membership to vote for one. He suggested he was impelled by a clash during the week with a TFC representative, a conflict he characterized as arbitrarily initiated and abusive. The resolution formulated for this month’s meeting said the board favored the lawful right of 32BJ or anyone to seek better working conditions by organizing. A motion to table it for further consideration was voted down; the resolution passed with two abstentions and one vote for rejection.
Chris Wattenberger, a Sunnyside resident living near the corner of Skillman Avenue and 43rd Street, where the Sunnyside greenmarket sets up business every Saturday between mid-June and mid-December, said the placement of stands along Skillman has a disruptive effect on the apartments across the street. He said it would be better if the market were placed along the west side of 43rd Street instead. Woodside resident Jim Condes warned the meeting that the plan to build three elementary schools on 39th Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets would bring 2,000 students and a huge amount of bus and car traffic to the neighborhood each day which he inferred from a conversation he had with city School Construction Authority Operations Manager Chris Persheff. He said a better site might be at Northern Boulevard and 43rd Street, where the Pathmark supermarket has lost its lease and must move out, which would open the building and parking space for school construction. But Jean Carubia of the board countered that another supermarket is prepared to occupy that site.
The meeting was the last for Board 2 until after Labor Day in September.