2016-09-14 / Front Page

CB 2 Regroups For New Season

By Thomas Cogan

Denise Keehan-Smith conducted her first Community Board 2 meeting as its chairwoman in September.   She began by telling those assembled at Sunnyside Community Services that she is its first woman leader.  She led this particular meeting late into the evening, despite a seemingly brief agenda made briefer by the postponement of a Department of Transportation discussion about street reconstruction in Hunters Point.  It was the first meeting in three months and many speakers seemed to have been waiting all summer to sign up and address issues they had in mind.  Among them were a former board member, now running for political office, and a Woodside resident angry that a hotel located near his house had become a homeless shelter.  There was even an election to fill a board officer vacancy that had not been filled in June. 

Surviving on the agenda was a two-part talk by two firemen.  The first part was about fire safety and the second about a blaze that destroyed a woodworking factory in industrial Long Island City this summer.  Lieutenant Frank Minetta, safety educator from the Fire Department’s borough command, spoke mainly about smoke alarms and their companion carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.  He said that three of four fires occur where no smoke alarm is operational.  They should be installed on every level of every residence, he said.  Current nine-volt battery smoke alarms are due for replacement by sealed-battery models guaranteed for 10 years.  As for CO alarms, Minetta said that through a missed opportunity when the fire code was updated, they are not mandatory in city residences but should be, the way smoke alarms are.  

Fire Chief James Maloney described a fire that occurred a few weeks ago in Long Island City at 43-34 37th St., near Queens Boulevard, destroying a woodworking factory

that manufactured high-end furniture.  The fire broke out one day just after working hours and burned until firefighters from several units were able to put it out, at about midnight.  By looking at the wreckage and reading documents posted in early August on the green-painted plywood fence put up at the burned-out site, one can see that the fire caused the roof to collapse, which rendered the building a total loss.

Marvin Jeffcoat, a former CB 2 member, came in to announce that he is running for state senator in the 12th senate district (Astoria, Sunnyside, Long Island City) as a Republican/Conservative.  He is unchallenged in the primary, held on September 13, and will be running against the similarly unchallenged Michael Gianaris (Democrat/Working Families), who has held the 12th district seat since being elected in 2010, following a decade in the state assembly.  As a CB 2 member, Jeffcoat had a strong interest in the cause of military veterans, especially those who are housed at the homeless veterans’ shelter on Borden Avenue.

Paul Sala is a Woodside resident living near the Quality Inn at 53-05 Queens Boulevard.  Like several other hostelries in Queens, this one is currently housing the homeless in a number of its rooms.  Sala came to the meeting to complain that since midsummer he has been disturbed by some persons he believes are homeless residents at the inn.  On one occasion a woman and a child were sitting on his porch.  He told them to leave and they did, but later he discovered crumbled junk food stuffed into his mailbox.  He said that on another occasion he was disturbed by a teenager bouncing a basketball at about 1:00 in the morning in the parking lot behind the inn.  At that point, Keehan-Smith said he should be sure the boy was a shelter resident before identifying him as one.  Sala said he is sure the boy was, and when he complained to the inn’s management about him, somebody sprayed paint on his house.  Keehan-Smith, also a Woodside resident, said she is apprised of the Quality Inn issue and intends to make some inquiries about it.

Amadeo Plaza, head of the relatively new Court Square Civic Association, addressed the meeting to say he is concerned for residents such as himself , living amidst  commercial and residential growth that looks like it could overwhelm the neighborhood in that part of Hunters Point.  He urged the audience to attend a CSCA meeting that will look at the situation, at MoMA P.S. 1, 22-25 Jackson Ave., Thursday, September 29 at 7:00 p.m.

As he has many times before, Jim Condes condemned Access-a-Ride for what he has often called its ill-run taxi service for the elderly and disabled.  Also again, he said he receives no attention from City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer whenever he appeals to him in the matter—and gets the brush-off from other politicians as well.  Dick Gundlach, a board member, supported Condes, saying that he and others dissatisfied with Access-a-Ride should urge Van Bramer, the Council’s majority party leader and thus an important figure, to hear their complaints.

When committee leaders made their reports, Lisa Ann Deller of the land use committee said that opponents of the Phipps affordable housing plan for Barnett Avenue in Sunnyside should show up in force at a City Council meeting in City Hall Tuesday morning, September 20 and 9:00 a.m.  She said that opponents have not made their voices loud enough and here’s an opportunity to get vocal.  Former CB2 Chairman Joseph Conley said that the issue has thus far been made out as Mayor Bill de Blasio versus City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, when it’s really the mayor versus the community.

Penny Lee of the Department of City Planning had news about a Queens Plaza South project that will fill in the blank space next to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene building.  She said that the plan is to build a single base from which will rise two buildings.  One will be the headquarters of We Work, which was founded in 2010 to provide shared workspaces for entrepreneurs, freelancers and start-up operations—what it calls “a platform for creators.”  The other will be an office building for Bloomingdale’s, consolidating the department store’s offices, currently scattered in several places.

A bit of old business to take care of was election of a board secretary, left undone at the conclusion of the June meeting.  The first and only nominee was Norberto Saldana, who accepted the nomination and was elected unanimously.

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