2012-10-17 / Front Page

CB 1 Holds Meeting

By Thomas Cogan

Community Board 1’s cabinet meeting for October had three health care matters, if parking problems at Mount Sinai Queens could be counted as one of them; the other two definitely were direct, concerning breast cancer and asthma.  There were appearances by representatives of the Transit Police and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, who talked about smart phone theft and street activity permits, the latter overseen by a unit called SAPO, which stimulated a remarkable amount of interest and commentary.  The final speaker was from the Department of Environmental Protection, stressing exact definitions for sewers and catch basins and warning homeowners to keep up with their household responsibilities.

Nicole Aloise was at the meeting representing CAREing and SHAREing, the group started in 1993 by Anna Kril, a woman who at the time had been told she had breast cancer.  Hearing that, she formed a local group to increase awareness of the disease among women.  Aloise said the group would set up a table at the first Community Wellness Day event to be held locally, in the gym of the Frank Sinatra High School of the Performing Arts the following Saturday at noon.

Judy Trilivas and Brad Deckstrom came to the meeting from Mt. Sinai Queens to talk about something familiar to many who have had to drive to the hospital on 30th Avenue:  its parking problem.  Mt. Sinai has only one parking lot, right behind it on 30th Road, and can find no more space in the vicinity, so it must expand the single lot somehow.  Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has secured money for the task of installing racks for stacking cars doubly high, doubling the lot’s capacity.  Expansion is as-of-right in this case, so the only thing delaying immediate construction is the need to build a retaining wall, since the lot lies between two houses.  When the project is completed, the lot will have valet parking for 54 cars.

Gonzalo Sabogal M.D., an attending physician at New York Hospital Queens and an asthma specialist, said the hospital now has an asthma clinic in a van that can be dispatched

to various places.  The plan for Astoria is to have the van visit on Mondays and Wednesdays from the hospital on Main Street.  Dr. Sabogal is asthmatic himself, and those who had questions for him seemed to have some close connection to the ailment also.  He was asked about inhalers containing steroids and their relationship to stunted growth in asthmatic children and weight gain in users of all ages.  He admitted that steroid inhalers can cause some stunting of growth in children but didn’t see the connection with weight gain.  Dates for implementation of the van service and where it will be located are to be announced.

Lieutenant Andrew Hackey of the Transit Police was in attendance to warn about crime on the subways.  He is based with the TP, a division of the greater police force, at the Briarwood-Van Wyck station on the F line.  The TP’s responsibility in Queens extends to 52 stations, and the division is responsible for the canine unit too.  In general, the TP is responsible for everything in the station from the tracks to the stairways going outside--though not the buses, which are the responsibility of the precinct police.  The lieutenant handed out anti-crime pamphlets and gear guards that can lock the twin zipper heads together so one’s backpack cannot be opened by someone standing behind.  He said that “anything Apple,” particularly an i-Phone, is a hot item for thieves.  The first thing one should do to prevent theft, he said, is to be absolutely sure where your phone is while you are riding the trains, because a thief is looking for that unguarded moment when the owner is inattentively holding it and a getaway path is open. When that opportune moment comes, the thief can snatch the phone away and be out of sight almost instantly.  There are countless instances where that has happened underground lately, as thieves standing in open train doorways have grabbed phones or other valuables and fled.  Or, as the lieutenant put it:  “If you drop your phone, it’ll never hit the ground.”

Claudia Filomina, Queens director of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, talked about it and street activity permits.  The unit handles pest and sanitation problems and “neighborhood eyesores,” including graffiti.  About that she said this:  the unit cleans graffiti five days a week, though the coming cold weather will mean suspension of PowrWash service; and not everybody wants graffiti removal, being inured to its presence, especially on fences.  Street activity permits, necessary for block parties, street fairs and farmers’ markets, are handled by a sub-unit called street activity permit operations, or SAPO.  Immediately, Lucille Hartmann, Community Board 1’s district manager and moderator of the cabinet meetings, explained the board’s own policy, which is aimed at protecting activities off the street; she recalled instances when street activities blocked the mobility of wedding limousines.  Filomena declared that street activities have been greatly curtailed.  “We don’t approve new single block festivals often,” she said.  Hartmann noticed a “one chance” policy also, meaning that rain dates have been fairly well abolished.  Noticing there was confusion, Filomena explained the difference between block parties and street fairs.  The former tend to be one-block affairs, the latter more than one, or several.

The next speaker, Karen Ellis of the Department of Environmental Protection, cleared up some confusion also, explaining the difference between sewers and catch basins.  The former are found beneath manhole covers in the middle of the street; the latter under curbside openings.  Ellis said that homeowners are responsible for their property and must make certain repairs, such as for faulty plumbing.  She said the agency can in some cases shut off water until the negligent party has made repairs.

The next scheduled cabinet meeting is Thursday, November 8.


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