2015-11-18 / Front Page

CB 1 Gathers After A Month Off

By Thomas Cogan

The Community Board 1 cabinet meeting for November was the first in two months, the October meeting having been cancelled because the person who presides over it, Community Board 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris, had to attend borough budget consultations. 

This month’s meeting was relatively brief, as a couple of speakers on the schedule did not attend.  One of the missing was the community coordinator for the Department of Environmental Protection, but he had a replacement.  The missing district superintendent from the Department of Sanitation would have informed the meeting of the outlook for snow plowing this winter, but since no one stood in for him, attendees went away uninformed.  The Transit Authority and Con Edison representatives came through, however.

The DEP woman had information limited to homeowners, telling them how they might sign up for water and sewer pipe protection with the private (but DEP-approved) American Water Resources (AWR).  Those who do not qualify, or those who do but choose to protect themselves independently, must be mindful that if things go wrong, repairs could be costly, when done by either plumbers or the DEP, which also charges for the repairs or replacements it makes.

Luke DePalma, assistant governmental relations officer at the Transit Authority, said that the TA is undertaking ventilation repairs throughout subway stations in Long Island City and Astoria.  These repairs will allow the TA to close off vents should storm and flood events such as 2012’s Superstorm Sandy recur.  DePalma said the project will last for several months, adding that there should be minimal disruption of streets and stations during that time.

Andres Ledesma, Con Edison representative, said that work has been completed on the old oil pipeline, running from Astoria to Newtown Creek, which the company had to retire.  He told the meeting last spring that the pipeline would be “pigged,” or have its oil removed, and when that and other decontaminants were gone the pipe would be grouted, to insure that nothing would ever be put back into it.  Work was done on seven sites, mainly along Vernon Boulevard, from 36th Avenue to 54th Avenue.  He turned to an ongoing concern, gas leaks, and urged everybody to be aware that leakage of natural gas threatens the populace with sickness or even death, through asphyxiation or explosion.  Natural gas, he reminded the meeting, is odorless; but a chemical has been added that leaves it with an unpleasant, rotten egg odor.  Anyone smelling it should phone 911 and the Fire Department will respond.

Koulouris opened the meeting to general discussion and heard first from Ed Vélez, Astoria activist, who expressed skepticism regarding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandate for affordable housing.  “There’s no such thing as ‘affordable,’” he said, because developers will always get their way, housing costs will rise and many tenants will become homeless.  He deplored “poor doors” that have been built into high-rise housing in Manhattan and Brooklyn so those residents at the affordable level cannot cast their shadows on the market rate residents, who are let into their grander entrances by doormen.  Koulouris said that community boards in Queens are voicing opposition to the zoning text amendments driving the current affordability movement, though CB 1, like CB 2, appears to have approved them, provided that board members’ objections to some allowances to developers lead to changes.

Groups and their representatives were introduced.  A woman from Astoria 5 told the meeting that the group’s mission is to promote tree health and a greener environment in the community.  Astoria 5 members are:  27th Street Block Association; Astoria Park Gateway/Hoyt Avenue; Friends of 38th Street; Astoria Green Gardener’s; and Friends of Astoria Heights Park.  Email contact is Astoria5treecare@gmail.com.  Cara Ochsenreiter, who is community director,

street-to-home Brooklyn/Queens, of Breaking Ground, a Greenpoint-based homeless advocate, said Breaking Ground is currently concentrating on the plight of homeless veterans. The Web site is breakingground.org and email is COchsenreiter@breakingground.org.  







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