2015-04-29 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Left Holding Empty Bag

To The Editor:

State Assemblymembers Catherine Nolan and Margaret Markey, along with Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (Letters to the Editor, April 15) have nothing to worry about concerning the proposed Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel which might connect New Jersey to Brooklyn and Queens. In theory, it might move thousands of trucks on a daily basis off the roads and on to railroad tracks for significant portions of the journey between New Jersey and Long Island. It reminds me of the long-forgotten proposed tunnel between 69th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and St. George, Staten Island. The concept was to extend subway service from Brooklyn to Staten Island. Ground was broken with entrances at both ends in the 1920s, but the project quickly ran out of money and was abandoned to history. When living on Shore Road in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, friends and I would look, to no avail, for the abandoned site, filled in decades earlier. Flash forward almost 90 years later and we have the proposed Cross Harbor Freight Program.

Construction of any new freight, public transportation tunnel or bridge project can take years, if not decades by the time all feasibility studies, environmental reviews, planning, design, engineering, real estate acquisition, permits, procurements, construction, budgeting, identifying and securing funding is completed. This is before the project reaches beneficial use. Construction for the 2nd Avenue subway began in the 1960s. (Bond money intended for this project in the 1950s was spent elsewhere). The latest completion date for the first segment of three stations between 63rd and 96th Streets on the upper east side of Manhattan is 2016 at a cost of $4.5 billion. Construction for the original tunnel to support bringing the Long Island Rail Road from Queens into Grand Central Station began in the 1960s. The latest completion date is now 2023 with a cost of $10 billion. No one can identify the source for the estimated $16 billion to build a new tunnel for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak, known as the Gateway Project, to gain additional access to Penn Station from New Jersey. Ditto for paying back the $3 billion federal loan which covered a majority of the estimated $4 billion for replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge in Westchester. Any guess who will find $5 to $10 billion or more needed for construction of a new Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel? This may be just another in the continuing series of feasibility studies sponsored by various governmental agencies and public officials over decades. They generate some money for consultants, along with free publicity for elected officials who promise a bright future, but all to often move on to another public office before delivering. You are frequently left holding an empty bag with unfilled promises. At the end of the day, just like the long-abandoned Brooklyn to Staten Island subway project, don’t count on seeing any shovel in the ground before the end of this decade. Don’t count on completion of any Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel in our lifetime.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Westway Update

To The Editor:

Last Thursday evening (4/23) as many Queens residents were enjoying the New York Mets’ success, a group of residents from the Upper Ditmars area met, once again with representatives from WIN and the city Department of Homeless Services.

As of that date, there has been no contract signed by New York City and WIN (Women In Need) for the management of the homless shelter, while it is still being occupied by over 400 people. The court cases remain unresolved and a third case is reportedly “in the works.”

Meanwhile, the saga continues with piles of garbage accumulating daily in the rear yard. When asked about this, the management responded that they would look into this with the Department of Sanitation. It seems the DSNY only does regular household pick-ups (twice a week), as this place is considered a residence. It was urged by some to provide a dumpster. Your “political junkie” strongly suggested that the pick-ups be augmented by private sanitation an additional four days and they be paid by WIN and/or the owner of the property. WIN is the recipient of millions of dollars for managing, and the owner is receiving millions of dollars in rent.

Over 400 people are being provided three meals a day and are generating a lot of refuse. This place is a “business” being publicly funded and should not be piling up the garbage in the back yard.

About those three meals a day: at a previous meeting, it was ascertained that eligible residents are receiving food stamps (A federal program covering those on public assistance) in addition to the catered-in food. The cost of the catering is NOT part of the WIN contract but, instead, is paid for by the city Department of Homeless Services. When asked what the cost was, DHS was “not sure” but gave an estimate and asked that I not publish any figure until she obtained the actual amount. I said I would make a fair and reasonable estimate based on minimums, and came up with a figure in the hundreds of thousands.

That’s in addition to the contractual amount, $24 million over four years!

When following up on the question regarding a listing of all Westway residents’ names with the NYPD local police precinct, we were told that this would be “unconstitutional.” It was pointed out that the precinct has the same information regarding those who live in public housing. Further information should be addressed to DOH legal counsel. I hope this attorney is present at the next advisory meeting.

The following suggestions are being seriously considered by the community: Providing information regarding summer camp programs, Summer Youth Employment, and NYPD Explorer program.

If you see something, say something. This means calling the appropriate agency, NYPD, FDNY, etc. Be sure to get the badge number/name of responders. The hotline direct to Westway is 718-274-2800.

WIN has security patrol every hour on the streets that border the facility. Frances Luhmann

Flushing Parking Issues

A copy of this letter was received at the Queens
April 24, 2015

My Fellow Board Members,

I regret to inform everyone that New York City Housing Preservation and Devlopment (HPD) refuses to meet and include input from Community Board 7 before a developer is selected for the Municipal Parking Lot #3 Affordable Housing Development.

A meeting was convened on March 25 at the Borough President’s office to allow our input, but the presentation by HPD was extremely guarded, confusing and perfunctory at best, designed to limit our participation.

I have stated publicly to our board we have great concerns about proper development on this very narrow and complicated site adjacent to the LIRR in overcrowded downtown Flushing.

We are also aware and extremely concerned about the Mayor’s proposal to eliminate all required parking for all senior and affordable projects within 10 blocks of transit hubs.

This is not the first time HPD has been uncooperative, as we were ambushed with Mayoral overrides to eliminate parking for Macedonia Plaza. This was done despite 10 years of close discussion with the administration to rezone Muni Lot #1, yet we were never told parking waivers would be included for Macedonia Plaza.

We have only begun to feel these ramifications as it impacts the 109th Precinct, numerous bus routes, and all vehicle traffic entering downtown Flushing from the east, all of which use Union Street.

Although this administration proclaims “transparency,” it is very apparent it hasn’t sent the “transparency memo” to all its city agencies.

Be prepared, as projects are forced upon us, insensitive to our needs and the institutional knowledge we have of our community. I ask all board members to contact our New York City Councilmembers Koo, Vallone, and Ferreras, along with all other affected elected officials, business and community leaders with these concerns.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Chuck Apelian
Vice Chairperson and Acting Chairperson
Community Board 7

Security Breached

To The Editor:

I am appalled to learn that the relief pitcher of the Mets was suspended for play for 80 games due to taking steroids and illegal substances. What a very bad example he is setting for young people and baseball fans who look up to baseball players as heroes.

Sports players in every field of sports are overpaid, getting millions of dollars for pitching a ball, playing hockey, or football, and it is shameful that they are glorified. They are not heroes at all, but overrated, arrogant men who are playing for millions of dollars. What about the heroes of our NYPD, FDNY, veterans, those who are fighting overseas and ordinary people who overcome obstacles?

Doctors and nurses do not earn millions of dollars and they save lives.

Also I am appalled that powdered alcohol is sold and agree with Senator Schumer and others that it should be banned. As for medical marijuana it must be controlled like other substances and I am fearful that it may land on the streets and be hazardous.

I cannot understand why a dwelling did not have a carbon monoxide (CO) detector alerting the residents that there was a CO problem. A car should never be kept running in a garage.

I also agree with the State Comptroller that all municipalities in New York State must be monitored and he is in charge of the final audit. Millions of dollars of tax payers’ money is being wasted as a result.

I also agree with state Senator Gianaris that the number 7 train must be repaired, and more federal funds must be given for repairs. The 7 train is busy and affects the lives of millions of riders as they use it for their main transport to work, to school, and shopping, and when the train is not running the economy is affected.

The smoke condition was dangerous that existed on that train line and it caused a twohour delay.

I cannot understand how the security in the nation’s capital is breached. I also heard that the security at our airports are not the greatest, and let people sneak in illegally.

I am glad that a series of events will be held in April to honor the 50th anniversary of the landmarks law and commend Borough President Katz for this honor.

I am glad that Congressmen Crowley and King are working toward a restoration of full funding for New York City for homeland security. We as a city, as indicated by 9/11 terrorism, are vulnerable and not to restore the total funding for homeland security is an abomination and appalling and shows no respect for our city.

I also am not happy to hear that NY libraries are only open 45 hours a week and that is the lowest in our nation. Libraries offer books, literacy, language courses, as well as lectures and speakers and an outlet for educational experiences. I also am hopeful that the youth summer job program will be funded, since in this city youth on the street cause trouble or have nothing to do which can cause more problems. Also by learning work habits and working for a salary, teenagers gain work experience and are happy to be productive. I also feel that school crossing guards must be unionized, be given benefits and honored, since their job is so important – protecting children and enhancing the safety of children.

I agree that powdered alcohol must be banned, since it can be mixed with drinks and water and cause reactions in teens that may cause accidents and addiction.

I also agree that toys must be devoid of toxic chemicals for the health of children since they put the toys in their mouths.

I also am glad that finally help in terms of grants by our city will be given to those who suffered as a result of that explosion in the East Village. It is about time and this should have happened immediately. There is destruction and shock and a need for rebuilding.

I also agree that public housing must be environmentally friendly.

There should be coverage on the news and in the newspapers of the heroic work that chaplains who are connected with the Red Cross do in times of emergency, devastation and disaster. They are volunteers, clergy, etc., who care and support and counsel those suffering from shock as a result of disasters of all kinds. The positive must be accentuated.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck


To The Editor:

While our country’s economy has shown a slight improvement, it still has a long way to go. There are still a sizable number of Americans out of work, and prices on everything, from food to medicine, clothing, gas, and other basic essentials continue to be very expensive, as are mortgage rates. Our illustrious president seems to only be concerned with photo ops, and planning his trip to Kenya this coming summer, when he should remain here at home to deal with all of the nation’s economic and other problems, including the spike in confrontations between police and African American citizens. This country needs an effective leader, one who is genuinely concerned about the needs and concerns of the American people. For the last six years, Barack Obama has not done this to any serious degree. Our country is headed for an even deeper economic collapse over the next two years, and whoever becomes our next president will have even more difficulty bringing the country out of its economic slump.

Police Commissioner Bratton certainly does need to hire more police officers for our city. Mayor Bill de Blasio must budget enough money for the NYPD. Our citizens need and deserve the best protection that can be given.We pay high taxes, and are entitled to have more police, as well as firefighters to protect our city. The City Council needs to stand behind the Police Commissioner as he seeks additional funding for expanding the police force. The mayor needs to set his priorities straight, and stop wasting time on nonsensical things. We need and want more police and firefighters for our city. They are the best first responders in the whole nation!

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

‘Broken Windows’ Works

To The Editor:

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark- Viverito seeks to make our city most unsafe. She proposes to decriminalize six low-level offenses, like public urination, biking on the sidewalk, public consumption of alcohol, being in the park after dark, failure to obey park signs and jumping subway turnstiles. These brokenwindows policies have proven to bring down crime for some of these offenders who are wanted or in the process of commiting more serious crimes. As NYPD Police Commissioner Bratton said, “Under no circumstances will I support anything that weakens the ability of my officers to police and keep this city safe.” Well I totally agree, we need such policies or crime shall reign supreme. Kudos to Bill Bratton for standing up for the city and our Finest.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

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