2015-09-02 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Partake Responsibly

To The Editor:

Whether at a backyard barbecue or on the water this Labor Day weekend, remember to celebrate responsibly and include a designated driver or skipper if your plans include alcohol.

Anheuser-Busch Sales & Service Of New York is committed to helping adults celebrate responsibly.

These are our roads and we have a shared responsibility to keep them safe. However you get home this Labor Day weekend, please designate a driver.

C.A. Verdon
Consumer Social Responsibility Coordinator

Input On Shelters

Dear Friends:

This week, the city opened another homeless shelter in East Elmhurst. The family shelter is operating at the former site of the Clarion Hotel, now renamed The Landing, located at 94-00 Ditmars Boulevard.

Let me be clear. We are not opposing the shelter outright because, as everyone knows, anyone is a paycheck away from being homeless. My pressing concern is that the city brought another homeless facility into the neighborhood without any community input and after earlier stating that the site was not being considered as a location to house homeless families. The administration cannot bring another shelter into the community without increasing services and resources available to residents.

As an elected official, I represent the interests of my constituents and worry about their quality of life. If a homeless shelter, or any other facility, has a negative impact on resources such as sanitation, health, education and public safety, it is my responsibility to air these concerns.

This is why I would encourage my colleagues in the Assembly to pass a bill that would require the city to provide communities with the chance to provide their comments and input on any plans to open or expand these social services centers. I am a co-sponsor of this legislation that passed the Senate earlier this year.

If you have any questions or need help, do not hesitate to stop by my office or to call us at 718- 205-3881.

Sincerely,
Jose Peralta

Earns Eagle Scout

To The Editor:

The scouts, leaders and members of the Committee Boy Scout Troop 268 take great pleasure in announcing that:

Having completed the requirements for, and having been examined by an Eagle Scout Board of Review George Moustakos was found worthy of the rank of Eagle Scout.

In honor of this achievement, we have scheduled an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Saturday October 24, 1 pm, at Laterna Restaurant, Bayside.

We will compile any letter or certificate acknowledging his achievement with other acknowledgments and place it in a scrap book commemorating this special occasion.

Thank you for taking time from your extremely busy schedule to help this community recognize the achievements and service of Eagle Scout

George Moustakos.
Peter Moustakos
Advancement Coordinator of the Troop
Committee
Boy Scout Troop 268
Flushing

Noise More Than Annoys

A copy of this letter was received at the Queens
Gazette.
August 17, 2015
William J. Bratton
Commissioner
New York City Police Department
One Police Plaza
New York, NY 10038

Dear Mr. Bratton:

A New York City police office recently told me, in the presence of an active noise violation, that he couldn’t do anything about it because the police aren’t trained in dealing with noise violations.

That would explain why complaints about noise offenses are invariably ineffective.

I’ve been trying for several months to get some egregious noise violations near my home – loud music from several bars and restaurants in a lawless stretch of a major thoroughfare – stopped. I’ve submitted complaints to 311, attended Precinct Community Council meetings, communicated with an assistant to my City Council member, and spoken with several officers at my local police precinct. For all that effort, the result has been nothing more than a moderate, intermittent reduction in the intensity of the violations. Ignorance of the law on the part of the police goes a long way toward explaining why they don’t stop the offenses completely: they don’t know what constitutes an offense and they don’t know how to deal with them.

It appears that the official policy of the city’s Police Department is that noise offenses are a trivial matter and are to be ignored. But noise is not trivial. When it interferes with people’s sleep, it can cause serious health problems. When people’s homes are bombarded with it, it disrupts their lives and they have no way to defend themselves against it. The City Council recognized those facts when it passed a major revision of the noise law in 2007. (Ironically, the revision was supposed to make the law easier to enforce.) It was signed by the mayor and is theoretically the law of the city. But because it isn’t enforced, it isn’t worth a damn. Recognition of noise as a serious matter and enforcement of the noise law need to begin without further delay.

Sincerely,
Jim Strawhorn
Jackson Heights
cc: Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Council Member Daniel Dromm
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

Same Old LGA Noise

To The Editor:

While LaGuardia Airport could surely benefit from an aesthetic upgrade, the upgrade did not have to mandate dramatic changes to the surrounding airspace. The new Central Terminal Building comes with accompanying flight route changes that will make noise abatement a near impossibility. Mainstay departure routes like the Whitestone Climb, which had reached an altitude of 2,000 feet before passing over a single residence, will increasingly give way to the “TNNIS” Climb, which strafes some 240,000 residents before reaching that same altitude.

The unadvertised purpose of the terminal upgrade is to add space for mega jets, which have a lower takeoff trajectory and closer departure threshold. For this reason, these aircraft cannot efficiently make the formerly mandatory turn over Flushing Meadows Park. They, and every subsequent plane on the same path, will be forced straight out over the neighborhoods of Flushing, Auburndale and Bayside. Because the FAA had recently graced these communities with new NextGen routes – a series of indiscriminately drawn straight lines and wide arcs over highly populated areas – these planes will be increasingly forced onto the same NextGen routes which had already been a source of outrage.

There are residents in Queens who have never used the airport. There are many more who rarely use it. When behemoths like the Airbus 380 begin crop dusting northeast Queens at 20 second intervals for 18 hours a day, many in Queens may start to question the direct benefits and unmentioned consequences of the terminal upgrade. And as LaGuardia’s runway 13 continues to annex northeast Queens, at the expense of thousands of largely blue collar residents, it may even start to look like the terminal project was only initiated to better serve the itineraries of New York’s burgeoning luxury class.

Fully seven of the appointed members of LaGuardia’s aviation advisory panel are rooted in New York’s powerful real estate and tourism industries. The eighth and last member, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, is the sole spokesperson for the community. All we ever hear is the industry sales pitch and unsupported tales of increased fuel efficiency and reduced delays, despite a trove of peer reviewed studies indicating that the growth of the aviation industry will far outpace these efficiency improvements.

With more changes to our national airspace system occurring over the past three years than in the previous 30 years, many in Queens and elsewhere are starting to realize that we may have reached a point of airspace saturation and we simply can’t fit in another aircraft. If cities are now dependent on the perpetual growth of the aviation industry for their economic survival, we must come to terms with a very simple concept: The aviation industry needs a lot of room to expand, and cities don’t have lots of room to spare.

Will we continually cleave off small sections of our city, piece by piece, until the collective interests of real estate, tourism and aviation are met? When will this end? How will this end?

Brian F. Will
Community Representative for Port Authority
Technical Advisory Committee (TAC);
Webmaster, QueensQuietSkies.org
Flushing

Astoria Park Perimeter

Following is the position of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association (OANA) in reference to traffic flow and pedestrian/bicycle safety on roads surrounding Astoria Park.

1.Ditmars Boulevard: We back constructing another speed bump on Ditmars between 19th Street and 21st Street. We also prefer that all speed bumps around Astoria Park be four inches in height to make them more effective. This is similar to a pattern that was established on Astoria Park South that has been quite effective in calming traffic. Also, we feel that the lettering on the street advising a stop is coming should be repainted, and made larger to warn drivers of the upcoming four-way stop at 19th Street and Ditmars. Ditmars also needs to be kept as a two-way road.

2.Shore Boulevard: We are opposed to the total removal of vehicles on Shore Boulevard to make it pedestrian only. The loss of valuable neighborhood parking, plus lack of access for people with disabilities, make this untenable. Also, this has been tried in the past with disastrous results. All the vehicles just ended up moving to the local side streets, taking up valuable parking, and whatever noise and partying was created was now in residential neighborhoods. Excluding cars could also limit access for people not within walking distance. By bringing people from other communities we increase the spending in our neighborhood. It could make police enforcement more difficult, as everyone would be spread out, instead of in one location. And with the advent of the Performance Space, parking will become more essential.

Access to the park by service vehicles of the NYPD and Fire Department would be negatively affected – time is crucial. Also, the issue of noise abatement in the summer months has been addressed successfully by the installation of No Standing Night Regulations requested by the NYPD.

Please note that rather than removing parking in the winter, we at OANA have already requested a study from DOT and the NYPD to restore overnight parking on Shore Boulevard off-season, from November 1 to May 1. This is now in the hands of the NYPD for study.

Finally, because of all the major development on the Astoria waterfront, the demographics will undergo major changes in the next 7-10 years. Therefore it makes no sense to create changes until these new perimeters are established.

Also, we are not unopposed to the creation of one-way traffic on Shore Boulevard to facilitate establishment of a protected bike lane, as long as said bike lane does not use unsightly Jersey Barriers, instead using parked vehicles.

3.Astoria Park South: We do not feel any alterations are needed. It must be kept two-way.

4.19th Street: OANA is opposed to turning 19th Street into a one-way street. There is no more effective traffic calming measure than two-way traffic, especially on a narrow street such as 19th Street because of the park and especially the pool; we have many children in the area. Turning this one way is just inviting speeding or inattentive drivers, creating major safety concerns. While the two-way on 19th Street may be inconvenient, it is not worth the risk changing something that is not broken.

Richard Khuzami
Kevin Hernandez
Diane Kontzoglou
Old Astoria Neighborhood Association Board
Members

MTA Still $14.1B Short

To The Editor:

It was only last September 2014, that the New York State MTA Capital Program Review Board rejected the proposed $32 billion 2015 - 2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan. Ten months later the proposal is still $14.1 billion short. Governor Andrew Cuomo, Republican State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and members of his caucus, and Democrat State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and members of his caucus are responsible for future adverse consequences. New York City Transit bus and subway, MTA Bus and Long Island Rail Road Queens riders will suffer as a result of their collective inaction in dealing with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s $14.1 billion shortfall in the proposed $32 billion 2015 - 2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan.

The total overall NYC Transit proposed 2015- 2019 Capital Program request is $17.122 billion in future capital improvement projects which would have benefited NYC bus and subway riders. This includes $2.775 billion for the purchase of 940 new 60 foot rail cars. They will replace old R-46 B division cars which are at the end of their useful life; $1.002 billion for the purchase of 1,438 new buses. This includes 1,113 standard 40-foot buses, 275 articulated buses, and 999 paratransit vehicles. 138 buses will be fueled by Compressed Natural Gas and 75 by hybrid-electric; $2.989 billion for improvements to many of the 468 subway stations; $1.962 billion for replacement of 68 miles of mainline track and 175 mainline switches; $723 million for line equipment including 432 miles of tunnel lighting, 195 ventilation fan plants, 230 pump wells; $832 million for line structures including 136 miles of subway, 70 miles of elevated structures and viaducts along with 22 miles of at-grade alignments; $3.179 billion for signals and communications, $1.339 billion for traction power, $357 million for shops and yards, $592 million for depots, $260 million for service vehicles and $833 million for miscellaneous investments which includes $372 million for Staten Island Railway capital improvements.

Forty-two percent of the NYC Transit program is for normal replacement, 40 percent for state of good repair, 15 percent for system improvements and 2 percent for other. No wonder Cuomo has been silent since the original MTA 2015 - 2019 Capital Program was announced last September. It may be due to his reliance on Albany-based political advisors and consultants who lack a basic understanding for the detailed contents of the MTA’s Five Year Capital Program including the NYC Transit bus and subway.

Governor Cuomo previously stated that the proposed MTA $32 billion Five Year Capital Plan was bloated by billions, but to this day, Cuomo has never identified which projects and programs are “bloated,” that he would support being cut. Who has seen the details of what was reduced in scope, cost or postponed to the next 2020 - 2024 Five Year Capital Plan that justifies reducing the program by $5.2 billion to $26.8 billion? Who has seen the source of Cuomo’s proposed additional $7.3 billion contribution over five years to support the program? It made a great sound-bite. Like all career politicians, he failed to identify the specific source for these funds. We will have to wait until the State Legislature reconvenes in January 2016 before any of these dollars possibly become real.

The anticipated MTA cost savings of $2.2 billion is questionable. It is based upon more design and construction awarded to one firm, streamlining the procurement process and increased joint development projects with the private sector. It is missing the details to justify these savings.

The MTA needs to release a detailed analysis of the original proposed $32 billion 2015 - 2019 Five Year Capital Plan to support both the reduction in budget and anticipated cost savings numbers. This should include a review for each operating agency, including NYC Transit, MTA Bus, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road and MTA Capital Construction program by program, project by project. Identify which programs and projects have been reduced in scope, cost or postponed to the next 2020-2024 Five Year Capital Program. The devil, as they say, is in the details, which have yet to see the light of day.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

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