2013-10-23 / Political Page

Markey: ‘Reject Sunnyside Landmark District Change’

Arguing that a proposal to include the historic Aluminaire House among other new homes in the Sunnyside Historic District is “totally inconsistent with the spirit and character of the historic district”, Assemblymember Margaret Markey urged the city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to reject the project.

Markey (D–Maspeth) recalled that the Sunnyside Gardens community and its representatives “fought hard to win the historic designation” that the commission granted in 2007. But she nonetheless insisted: “It was an achievement all of us believed would prevent just such out of context developments as the one proposed here. I respectfully ask you to deny his application.”

Continuing to press her point in her presentation to the LPC on October 15, Markey said that when the district was declared a landmark, the commission itself described it as “one of the most significant planned residential communities in New York City”.

The lawmaker also pointed out that there is no natural link between the proposed development and the playground site. She stated, “I agree with the community that there are more appropriate and compatible uses for the location that need to be considered when this site is discussed.” The lawmaker also pointed out that there is no natural link between the proposed development and the playground site. She stated, “I agree with the community that there are more appropriate and compatible uses for the location that need to be considered when this site is discussed.” However, she declared, “Even though the proposed development may involve a truly worthy architectural structure in its own right, it does not belong here [in the landmarked district]. It is totally inconsistent with the spirit and character of Sunnyside Gardens.

“All of us in Queens are proud of the unique status and history of this portion of the Sunnyside community. Sunnyside Gardens has received wide national and international recognition for its character and success as the first practical application of the architecture and planning concepts developed by the Regional Planning Association of America.”

Markey spoke at the public hearing at the LPC offices in Manhattan, which was held to consider an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness for a project that would include eight units of new housing and also incorporate the historic 1931 Aluminaire House on the site of a former playground at 39th Avenue and 50th Street.

The lawmaker also pointed out that there is no natural link between the proposed development and the playground site. She stated, “I agree with the community that there are more appropriate and compatible uses for the location that need to be considered when this site is discussed.”

HEARING ON VALLONE’S BILL: Responding to many complaints received by Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. from constituents “harassed by aggressive doorto door solicitors, and complaints from those who were misled due to certain energy companies (ESCOs) inaccurate disclosure of their true prices”, the Astoria lawmaker introduced a bill prohibiting doorto door solicitations at a private residence if there is a conspicuous sign to that effect posted at the entrance.

Under the terms of Intro No. 1034, the homeowner would be given the right to post such a sign, violation of which would create a civil penalty calling for a fine not less than $250 or more than $1,000 for each violation.

Noting that current state law gives consumers the right to avoid receiving paper solicitations, Vallone said there is currently nothing that offers the same protection from door-to-door sales, leading him to comment:

“It is common sense that if we can ban menus and supermarket coupons from being left on our property, then we can also keep pushy salespeople and scam artists from disturbing us at home. Now solicitors will know if there’s a sign, there’s no sale.”

At the recent first hearing on Intro No. 1034 by the Committee on Consumer Affairs, Vallone recounted, Fran Freeman, the Department of Consumer Affairs’ deputy commissioner for External Affairs testified that the state Public Service Commission in 2012 published a consumer Bill of Rights to regulate door-to-door sales by ESCOs.

Vallone noted these rights include that a salesperson must identify himself and provide written materials. But despite the existence of this law, Vallone said, the Deputy Commissioner of External Affairs was unable to state what agency was empowered to enforce it. Also, Vallone added, Angela Shore, of Direct Energy, an ESCO, was unaware that the law even existed, which prompted Vallone to state:

“It’s amazing to me that a law exists to stop deceptive and annoying practices which no one knows about and is not enforced—clearly more needs to be done.”

MENG ON END OF GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: “It is long overdue, but the federal government is open and the debt ceiling is raised,” declared Congressmember Grace Meng as the latest crisis in Washington ended last week.

“Without repealing, delaying or defunding the Affordable Care Act,” she noted, “reasonable elected officials were able to avert a crisis that would have plunged the U.S. into another economic abyss, possibly worse than the Great Recession.”

Looking ahead, the Flushing lawmaker said she hoped the accord was “representative of the progress Democrats and Republicans will be able to make during the upcoming budget negotiations”.

LIU HAPPY CRISIS ENDED, BUT… City Comptroller John Liu said he was happy the crisis was resolved, but was concerned this was just a temporary solution.

“It is dismaying that a handful of members of Congress were able to bring the nation so close to a financial calamity,” he said, and labeled those who said “default would be manageable” as “ignorant and irresponsible”.

“If the U.S. Treasury defaults on its obligations, no one can predict the financial chain reaction that will ensue, but it is sure to be disastrous for the world, the nation and the City of New York,” he warned.

SCHUMER DEMANDS, ‘IMPLEMENT BACKUP CAMS LAW ON NEW CARS’: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) charges that although thousands of children and adults each year are needlessly hurt or killed when cars accidently back over them, the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) has delayed implementing the 2007 congressionally mandated law requiring back up cameras be fitted on all new cars by 2011.

Advocates estimate, the lawmaker said, that at least 200 people die and 17,000 are injured each year in predictable and preventable “backover” crashes—44 percent of those killed are children younger than five. But last June, DOT again pushed the deadline for implementing the law for another 18 months,—the longest delay yet—to the beginning of 2015.

“This delay is totally unacceptable,” Schumer said. “That rule should be in place in the first month of next year.”

Accompanied by parents who were involved in accidents where their own children were involved, Schumer said, “Turns out that one of the most dangerous places for a child to be is in the family driveway.”

Schumer gave no reason why the DOT has not started enforcement of the back up cameras law.

SCHUMER ENDORSES LIZ CROWLEY: On a less dangerous topic, Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, also of New York state, announced they had endorsed Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D–Glendale) for re-election in the 30th district race on November 5, Election Day.

Schumer stated that Crowley “has been a steadfast fighter for middle class families and a strong voice for her district in the Council”. Gillibrand described Crowley as “a strong advocate for her district and I strongly endorse her election campaign”. She also called her “a proven fighter for her constituents…”.

Crowley is running on the Democrat and Working Families Party ballot lines and is opposed by Republican- Conservative candidate Craig Caruana, of Middle Village.

MAYORAL CAMPAIGN LIMPING TOWARD FINISH: Last Tuesday’s first debate produced no major gaffes or scoring points between Democrat Bill de Blasio and opponent Republican Joe Lhota, so it was, in effect, a victory for de Blasio since the pols have made him the man to catch.

On top of that, in the days immediately after, there were more negatives for Lhota: his TV ad showing riots and mayhem during the Dinkins administration and the message that a de Blasio administration would bring us back to that period missed its mark. It was overkill and panic on Lhota’s part. Following that, there were reports from Brooklyn that a Hasidic Jewish leader was criticizing Lhota’s campaign as fumbling, uncoordinated and ineffective. There was no sign that Lhota was making any gain on de Blasio or did it look like any new poll would show Lhota would be cutting into de Blasio’s huge lead with November 5 now just 12 days away.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s State Chairman Ed Cox, put out a release criticizing de Blasio’s “war on police” after de Blasio “revealed plans to limit the NYPD’s ability to fight terrorism”.

Cox charged also that “from the beginning”, de Blasio had waged an all-out war on the NYPD which, Cox said, “has driven crime down 40 percent in the last 12 years and 80 percent in the last 20, making New York a safer city for all New Yorkers”.

Cox also blasted de Blasio’s promise to remove Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, “the most effective commissioner in the city’s history…”

That would end “the NYPD’s ability to prevent crimes before they happen with the legitimate use of ‘stop, question and frisk’ tactics and curtail the cops’ investigation of potential terror threats.”

We won’t take sides on the frisk issue, but we do agree with Cox’ obvious emphasizing de Blasio’s position on it as an issue that could resonate with some potential voters in New York City. Certainly, Lhota hasn’t used this issue against de Blasio.

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