2016-12-14 / Front Page

CB 1 Meets For Final Meeting Of 2016

By Thomas Cogan

The last Community Board 1 cabinet meeting of the year had to meet at 11 a.m. instead of its usual 9:30, but while a few familiar faces were missing in the board room at Kaufman Astoria Studios it was still well-attended and active.  The first speaker was from Small Business Services and when he tried to testify that SBS was laboring to make regulatory matters easier for fledgling businesspersons, he got pushback from CB 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris, who cited instances when light-handed treatment of business has had lamentable consequences, in Astoria anyway.  

There followed a report about the coming winter and how the Department of Sanitation will handle anticipated snowfall; another from HANAC about its substance abuse treatment program; yet another about annual winter coat drives and their expiration dates; Department of Design and Construction news about repairs of sidewalks and pipes; and the always astonishing report about unclaimed funds at the Office of the State Controller and how you might get some money that belongs to you but for some reason just got lost some time in the past.

Eric Parker of SBS said the agency’s job is to help small business and business persons navigate the channels of government regulation and otherwise show them steps to take to pass inspections and avoid fines.  For instance, one of the handouts showed how to “set out waste neatly and at the right time for hauling, and post private carter decals” to avoid $100-300 fines; or, for those serving food or drinks, to clean floors, walls and ceilings to avoid a $200 fine.  For each of these requirements there is a “learn more” tag

indicating where you can learn:  on.nyc.gov/topviolations.  He also said that agents can point out some violations and help correct them, instead of issuing summonses mercilessly.

Koulouris, however, seemed to have her complaints prepared and let the SBS representative bear the force of her indignation about the way owners of unenclosed cafés in Astoria take the permission they are granted and expand it to suit themselves.  Outside seat and table limitations are constantly violated, she said, and live music or disc jockeys are brought in with no thought of applying for a cabaret license.  She thanked Parker for the good things he and the SBS are doing but objected to the way violators game the system right under agents’ noses.  Public protests by her and others have thus far been unsuccessful, she said.

Luigi DiRico, the Department of Sanitation’s superintendent of Queens West 1, said his district has eight spreaders this year where it had only one last winter, so in that respect alone preparedness for snowfall appears greatly improved.  There are also more “holsters” for cleaning narrow streets that wider plows could not clear.  Front-end loaders are to be deployed if the snow warning is for more than 12 inches .  “Tertiary streets,” made familiar by Mayor Michael Bloomberg after a snowfall a few years ago, is no longer a valid term, DiRico said.  The plan now is to clean these formerly third-level side streets at the same time as the larger primary and secondary ones are cleaned.

Spiro Tsoumpariotis, program director of the HANAC substance abuse treatment program, said it has been in operation for several years.  Many are referred to HANAC by city agencies, which require it to maintain records of its operations.  The yearly number of persons to be treated is supposed to be 60, but Tsoumpariotis said it is always exceeded.  He said abusers who have recently been in jail can be problematical since they tend to either confrontational or non-communicative.  Koulouris asked there is high heroin use among the accepted patients and the program director said there was.  Koulouris said heroin seems to be all over Astoria.  Mention of new medication that is used as emergency relief for drug overdose included the warning that those administering it may do so only after careful training.

Nikki Kokinos, district director for City Councilman Costa Constantinides, said the office’s toys and coat drive must come to an end Friday, December 16.  Toys and coats may be dropped off at the councilman’s 22nd District office, 31-09 Newtown Ave., Suite 209.  Also at the meeting, Damaris Moné, deputy chief of staff for State Senator Jose R. Peralta, said the coat drive he is sponsoring does not expire until January 31.  Coats can be dropped off at the senator’s 13th District office, 32-37 Junction Blvd.

Haris Hussain, community construction liaison for the Department of Design and Construction, said the latest part of the DDC’s pedestrian safety upgrades in Astoria, which have been going on since last spring and will continue till the coming spring, is repair of sidewalks beneath the 36th and 39th Street and Broadway elevated stations on the Astoria train line.  When that it completed, DDC will turn to repairing and replacing old and faulty water pipes.

Dori Di Pace of the office of State Controller Thomas P. DiNapoli said the office, in the words of its literature, wants to “reunite rightful owners with their unclaimed, lost or forgotten assets.”  At present, she said, the controller’s Office of Unclaimed Funds has assets amounting to $14.5 billion!  Those who believe they might be entitled to some of it are instructed to search and select at osc.state.ny.us/ouf and, if there is a discovery, submit.  If there are further questions, get in contact with:  Office of the State Controller, 110 State Street, Albany, NY 12236.  Telephone 1-800-221-9311; email NYSOUF@osc.state.ny.us.




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