2016-12-21 / Front Page

Hunters Point Civic Association Meeting Hosts City Planner Craig Chin

By Thomas Cogan
The Hunters Point Civic Association’s December meeting, held at the New York Irish Society, 10-40 Jackson Ave., welcomed Craig Chin, a planner in the office of the Queens borough commissioner, Department of Transportation, who answered questions and maintained patience with a group of local residents who had pedestrian safety concerns on their minds, not to mention the perpetual problem of where to park vehicles.  The primary safety concern is for children, but adults at the meeting also said walking to work can be a hazard at certain traffic crossings in Hunters Point.  Speaking later was Commander Deputy Inspector John Travaglia of the 108th Police Precinct, who delivered a crime report and again said he was glad to see that burglaries are generally in decline, though the grand larceny rate continues to be unsatisfactorily high.  He had praise for the state’s environmental police, with whom he has worked recently.  Pressed to talk about the possibility of being transferred, he would say only that he expects it. 

HPCA President Brent O’Leary said the holiday season food drive has been concluded, with a total of 5,200 pounds distributed (which has been described as a very conservative figure, though it is much larger than last year’s).  O’Leary called HPCA a community organization that welcomes local groups or factions that need publicity, “If you think it important, we’ll try to take care of it,” he said. 

Chin’s night was begun with a demand from a local resident that four-way stop signs be placed at all traffic crossings down both Center Boulevard and Fifth Street.  Another resident, Mark Ritchie, said he has lived in Hunters Point for 19 years and has seen no progress at all on stop sign requests.  A speed hump was installed on Fifth Street but Ritchie said it strikes him as totally ineffective.  Several traffic calming suggestions for Center Boulevard and Fifth Street have been made to the DOT and been denied.

If it’s Hunters Point, lamentations about the dire shortage of parking spaces will take up many minutes of any meeting with the DOT.  A woman mourned the disappearance of neighborhood parking lots, devoured by developers who filled those vacancies with new buildings.  She also said that walking is no pleasure there either.  She walks to work at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Queens Plaza South but finds herself imperiled by vehicles any time she tries to make a crossing at 43rd Avenue and Hunter Street, she said, adding that there are some junctions that are so bad she avoids them completely.  A woman who lives on Court Square said the median on Jackson Avenue makes vehicle deliveries just about impossible; but worse, she said, is any attempt to cross the wide avenue through the pedestrian spaces in the median, because traffic is reckless.

O’Leary had to ask Chin why the stop signs everyone seems to believe belong in several key places, especially on Center Boulevard and Fifth Street, continue to be denied.  Chin said they fail to meet federal requirements.  But O’Leary and others asked if that judgment must necessarily end all argument.

D.I. Traviglia told the meeting that crime was up 9 percent in the past week but down 4 percent for the year.  Burglaries also went up during the week, numbering 11, though they too are down significantly for the year.  While grand larceny is indeed up, grand larceny auto is down 15 percent for the year.  Speaking of grand larceny, he said that his own way to avoid being “fished,” which often means having one’s bill-paying check lifted from a mailbox and rewritten for a much higher figure, then cashed at a bank, is to mail only at a post office or give it directly to a mail carrier.  Credit cards with chips in them have driven thieves back to such relatively crude (but sometimes effective) crime.  As for credit cards, those who receive new ones with chips in them should ask their card companies for the latest information on transactions, to check for any tampering that might already have been done with them.

He said his experience in early November and December with a police unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Protection was an enlightening one.  The DEP police have an office at 47-40 21st St. and on those occasions in November and December the commander and the environmental cops visited automotive repair shops along what is known as the Borden Avenue corridor to check for violations or other illegalities.  He said these agents are stringent in their enforcement of laws and regulations and have been quite effective getting better performance from shop owners.

When asked if he is being transferred, having been commander of the 108th for two years, a period assumed to be a commander’s limit, he could only say that it’s likely.  “I do what I’m told,” he said, though he added that if he could have his way he would be commander of the 108th until his retirement, he likes the assignment so much.

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