2015-09-23 / Editorials

CB1 Cabinet Meeting

To The Editor:

Regarding the Cabinet Meeting of CB1. The headline “new leadership” should read “new management”

Lucille Hartmann has retired from the position she held for years as District Manager (a paid position in the NYC budget). She had a distinguished career and will be surely missed.

Florence Kouloris has been hired by the members of Community Board to fill the position of District Manager.

Vinny Donato has been a member of CB1 for 40 years, serving as the Chairman of the Board for the duration of his membership having been re-elected subsequent times. He is resigning from the Board this month after a distinguished term of chairing the board with intelligence, efficiency, and fairness. He too will be surely missed. He epitomized the word “leadership.”

In keeping with CB1’s by-laws, we will be holding an election to fill the “chair position” until the end of the year. In January we will be holding our regular election of all officers.

Now, some points about the meeting. The board members were NOT complaining about the spraying to prevent the mosquitoes from spreading the West Nile Virus. They were upset about the limited amount of prior notification of spraying! Checking on a website is an impossible task for some who are not computer savvy. Newspapers are notified but don’t always print the notification.

When I heard of the intended spraying in late August in parts of Astoria, I called some neighbors. They were all UNAWARE.

A call to the WESTWAY showed that they have not been notified. The City of NY put 150-plus families into a neighborhood. They are unfamiliar with the set-up but travel back and forth through the area that was being sprayed.

The Dept. of Health says this spraying is in no way dangerous to your health, but you should keep your window closed and turn off fans and air conditioners if the spraying is in your area. And, by the way, you should wipe down any outdoor furniture or play equipment after the spraying. WHAT KIND OF BUREAUCRATIC DOUBLE -SPEAK IS THIS?

I recently met Mark Crusante, Director of Development, Our World Neighborhood Charter School, 36-12 35 Avenue, Astoria NY 11106. He is heading a project open to middle school children as an after-school program available to those residents of Community Board 1. I have provided this information and contact details to Women In Need and the Department of Homeless Services so that they can let parents of teenagers living in the Westway Homeless Shelter know that this much-needed service is available.

This could be a god-sent program for our teen-agers and their parents.

Mark Crusante’s offer of space to register for pre-K is also an excellent idea. Frances Luhmann McDonald

School Supplies

To The Editor:

With the fall semester about to begin, many parents are shopping and paying hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to buy numerous and expensive back-to-school items from a list provided by their children’s school. Your readers should know that basic supplies and materials are supposed to be furnished to parents, students and teachers. Somewhere along the line, someone is taking advantage. If parents are willing, or acquiesce to spend their own money, thinking they have no choice, then principals have that much more cash to play around with for better or worse. Children cannot be penalized for economic hardship. If enough people called their bluff, school administrations would need to find a way to share instructional resources among all its children.

Ron Isaac
Fresh Meadows

Was It Worth It?

There is more to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit starting service on the No. 7 subway line to the new 34th Street 11th Ave Hudson Yards station on September 13 that few are aware of, “7 Train Terminal Opens At Hudson Yards” (AnaĆ© Petito, September 16). Remember Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ceremonial ride on the 7 train back in December 2013 to the same unopened station? It was clearly just another feel good photo op for a lame duck mayor and other politicians. The original cost of the overall project was $2.1 billion and is now $2.4 billion, not counting the subway station that had to be dropped from the original scope of work along with additional subway cars necessary to provide opening day service for transit riders. Neither NYC nor the MTA could find $500 million to cover the proposed new intermediate subway station to be built at 10th Avenue and 41st Street. This station was part of the original project. One trick used by transit managers to complete any project within budget, is to drop a portion of the original work. This saves the necessary dollars which were not available to deliver 100 percent of what was originally promised. Deletion of this second station kept the project cost at $2.4 billion rather than $2.9 billion.

Construction started in 2007 with a planned completion date of December 2013. The anticipated first day of public service slipped several times from this date. First, by six months to June 2014; second, eight more months to February 2015; third, four more months to June 2015 and now, finally, September 13, 2015.

What the public, transit riders, transit advocacy groups and the media are unaware of is MTA’s senior management decision when the project was in the planning stage several years prior to 2007. They instructed staff deliberately not to follow the federal National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process or enter the United States Department of Transportation New Starts process. The MTA did not want to go after New Starts funding for this project. This would have had this project compete against both the Long Island Rail Road East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal and New York City Transit Phase One Second Avenue Subway projects for USDOT federal New Starts funding. The MTA provided no financial assistance and insisted NYC pay for virtually all of the project costs

The MTA could have leveraged the $2.4 billion in locally committed funding to apply for up to $500 million in federal New Starts funding. Using $2.4 billion as local share would have demonstrated local commitment, financial capacity and significant overmatch for justification of these additional dollars from Washington. These funds could have convinced USDOT to provide $500 million in federal funding that would have paid for the deleted station at 10th Avenue and 41st Street.

Offering to pay over 80 percent of the total project cost, would have made it easier for both City Hall and the MTA to compete against other transit agencies around the nation who have their own proposed New Starts projects, to obtain $500 million. Work for the deleted station could have been part of original construction bid package awarded in 2007. It could have been included as an option to the base bid. This would have afforded the MTA Office of Capital Construction the opportunity to add the deleted station as part of the base construction contract at a later date if funding was found. Should the MTA find future funding for this station, the cost could be significantly higher than $500 million. The MTA will need a new procurement and third party contractor to build the station. New York City Transit Authority will have to spend millions providing their own employee Force Account to support the construction contractor. They will be needed to provide flagging support which insures the safety of private contractor employees who will have to work adjacent to active subway tracks. The new contractor will also require a staging area for supplies and other support equipment. The previous contractor already had a staging area for supplies, support equipment and employees already mobilized to do the work. They had little need for NYCT Force Account flagging support as there was no active subway service. It would have been cheaper to build the deleted station with the existing contractor already mobilized, on site with few obstacles.

At the end of the day, riders and taxpayers have to ask if $2.4 billion for a 1.5-mile extension including one additional station built 21 months behind schedule is worth the cost.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

No More Room

To The Editor:

The building refugee crisis in Europe will continue to grow, and that is going to cause major problems, for not only Europe, but also for our own country. We are going to take in thousands of Syrian refugees within the next year, and housing and feeding these refugees will certainly be a huge task. Who is going to pay for all of this? While our country always has been humanitarian during world crises, we have so many problems here at home, with continued unemployment, high prices, and an economy that still has not fully recovered from the recession. While we should reach out to help these refugees, we cannot overtax our own resources. We already have over 11 million [illegal] immigrants in our country also.

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Vote Them Out

To The Editor:

There are much too many killings and too many guns put into the hands of the wrong people. The gun laws must be tightened.

I am glad that CB1 is under new leadership. Also, I am glad that CB2 will reconvene. These are our voices and important indeed.

I am literally disgusted to learn about the derailment of trains both subways and LIRR. We pay so much for fares and the service is awful and in addition there are dangerous conditions while traveling.

Overall crime and killings are up in the US. This is awful and shameful in a civilized world leader.

I hope and pray that the government does not shut down. Is this the scenario every two years? The lawmakers must work for the common good and they represent us. If they do not do their jobs they should be thrown out of office. We have the power at the ballot box to do so. The congressional leaders must act professionally, bring issues to the table and act upon them; and not be stubborn or hard-headed. Compromise must occur. Both parties must work toward moving our government forward not closing it down and causing suffering. This is a wake up call since our congressional members must wake up and stop being recalcitrant and not willing to compromise. This is shameful.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

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