2016-03-16 / Front Page

CB 1 Meets At Kaufman

By Thomas Cogan

The Community Board 1 cabinet meeting for March followed the usual procedure, letting organizational and agency speakers address the gathered listeners in the third floor board room of Kaufman Astoria Studios and then take questions. A woman from New York Road Runners led off, explaining some of what the group does when it isn’t sponsoring the New York Marathon each November.  A man from the U.S. Department of Agriculture was next, with the latest news about the fight against the Asian longhorn beetle, which appears close to being eliminated, at least in New York.  Two speakers from Urban Pathways spoke of the aid the group extends to homeless adults by finding them residency and keeping them out of shelters and hospital emergency rooms.  Nick Gulotta of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit spoke about the drive to lower the number of tenant evictions.  A woman from the Department of Consumer Affairs had information about free tax preparation and the representative from Environmental Protection reported on complaints about a foul odor in Astoria and steps taken to remediate it. 

Ruthie Campbell was the speaker for NY Road Runners.  She asked for a show of hands from all the runners in the room and got none.  An audience of non-runners left her cheerful and undiscouraged, however.  She said NYRR visits many schools in the city, promoting running and awards for achievement.  One such award can be found in an NYRR program called Run for the Future, an invitation to female high school students to get into running for fitness and friendship, to participate in a community service program and complete a 5-kilometer (3.1 mile) run.  There is an opportunity to win $1,500 in college scholarship money, based on fulfillment of the program requirements.  Time for applying is running short, the deadline date being March 31.  Inquiries should be made through runforthefuture@nyrr.org, or call 212-548-7360.

Bobby Miller of the USDA spoke about the Asian longhorn beetle, saying that in April and May inspectors will be looking at trees in Queens that might be threatened by it.  In June, a contractor will come in to remove infested trees if there are any.  The USDA and the Parks Department believe that such a threat isn’t likely, since there has been no sign of the beetles in any of the city’s trees since 2009, though they have shown up lately in trees farther out on Long Island.  In fact, he said, if these beetles are no longer considered a problem in the city, USDA personnel will be withdrawing.

The Urban Pathways women were Rubernette Chavis, a program director at The Residence @ Hallet’s Cove and Nicole Bramstedt, director of policy at UP’s Manhattan office, 575 Eighth Avenue.  UP’s clientele are single homeless adults, Bramstedt said.  Looking at the first speaker, she said additionally that some of them are road runners.  Chavis said that through a variety of misfortunes, many of their clients simply fall into homelessness.  They can then get lost in the system and need to be guided back to proper residency.  She said that UP forms support groups of clients to get them access to medical needs and treatment without having to resort to hospital emergency rooms.

Nick Gulotta, formerly of City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office and now of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, said there has been an effort in MCAU to help tenants and keep them from being evicted.  (A recent city advertisement dealing with evictions has appeared in the subways and may reflect this drive.)  He said the eviction count has lately been lessened.  He added that a support unit has been quite active in the Community Board 2 district.  In addition to countering evictions it arranges for repairs tenants might need.  He cited the address delivered by Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing, at the State of Our City review last month at the Museum of the Moving Image.  Other successes to report:  170,000 identity cards, ID NYC, have been dispensed, many to residents who formerly lacked sufficient identification; and ferry service to all boroughs, which is expected to be launched in June 2017.

Margaret O’Hora of Consumer Affairs and formerly of the Office of Financial Empowerment, spoke about free tax preparation services that are available all over the city for the next few weeks, in advance of the final filing date.  Those persons who earned less than $62,000 in 2015 can file taxes at a local tax preparation site with the assistance of a certified tax preparer; or online, following step-by-step instructions.  Further information is available from nyc/gov/taxprep or by calling 311.

Frank Fontana of the Environmental Protection Administration told the meeting there were recent complaints from Astoria residents living near the Bowery Bay Water Treatment Plant that a noxious odor was rising from its aeration units to afflict the neighborhood.  The complaints are being heeded, Fontana said, as aluminum covers are being put on the units, which should be sufficient to trap the odors.

 

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