2017-03-15 / Front Page

CB 1 Hosts Dept. Of Sanitation; Springtime Snow, Vaccines And Queens Zoo

By Thomas Cogan

The Community Board 1 cabinet meeting for March was the first since December and occurred on a relatively warm day, though according to weather reports, exceptionally cold weather was expected within a day or two. There is no meeting in February and only the January meeting was cancelled, but as a result the expected two-month delay was extended to three months.  Thus in March a flood of information came down on the attendees, like spring snow-melt from the high mountains.  Most prominent were reports of great street projects underway at present or soon to come, being the work of Con Edison or the Department of Design and Construction (DDC).  Also made available was an environmental justice report from the New York Power Authority (NYPA).

But the meeting began with a report from Joseph Marziliano of external affairs for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  He spoke of rats and how they are taking up residence in both residences and restaurants.  It’s a never-ending problem and a never-ending fight to keep it from becoming worse.  He said he conducts a—wait for it—Rat Academy, a 45-minute instructional session on how to lessen and remove the hazards and situations that can attract rats.  He plans to hold forth academically at April’s Astoria Civic Association meeting, though at the moment the exact date has not been set.  Another meeting, in Borough Hall for restaurateurs with C ratings, is planned also.  Those attending can get free consultation on controlling rats, for which there is normally a charge.  Also, free rabies vaccines for dogs will be available April 1—no fooling!—at the Queens Zoo on 111th Street. Dog license registrations will also be available, but there is a charge.  

Luigi DiRico, a representative from the Department of Sanitation superintendent, said that the snow season is considered ended but there would be perhaps three inches of it beginning that night and more was likely in days to come.  Surveys of street cleanliness in Long Island City were recently taken, he said, and most streets were rated cleaner than before but some were called the same or perhaps worse.  He said backpack blowers were being used to gather refuse in local streets where alternate side parking regulations were not in effect.  Sanitation workers were in operation in the early morning hours, which some local residents noticed.
Andres Ledesma of Con Edison announced the start of a gas service upgrade that in the next few weeks would require excavation work, parking restrictions and temporary lane closures in parts of Astoria.  The area of work would be bounded on the north by 34th Avenue, the south by 35th Avenue, the west by Vernon Boulevard and the east by Northern Boulevard and the intersecting Newtown Road.  With him at the meeting was Rosa Pitiño Prenz, who said that an accompanying electrical upgrade would follow.  She said it would also require work on Shore Boulevard, under the Triboro Bridge and beside Astoria Park and she warned there would be noise and dust.  It would all be over, however, and electricity transmission improved before December, she concluded.  More information about it may be obtained at 718-425-6899 or  email QueensRCA@coned.com

Ed Birdie, community relations director for the New York Power Authority, introduced Lisa Payne-Wansley, who said that NYPA’s environmental justice program has been around for years but had recently fallen somewhat neglected, and therefore it was time for revival. He EJ program is supposed to be dedicated to improving the living environment of low-income and minority communities.  She said it has been revitalized with pilot programs that emphasize STEM (scientific, technical, electrical and mechanical) education for youth; energy efficiency services; internships and mentoring for disadvantaged youth; and weatherization workshops for low-income homeowners.  CB 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris, who is in charge of each cabinet meeting, said she understood that STEM and energy education scholarships are going unnoticed by low-income youth as a means of financing their higher education.  Wansley said that further information is available from her at 914-287-3038 or  email lisa.Wansley@nypa.gov or through Kaela Mainsah at 914-390-8131 or kaela.mainsah@nypa.gov.

Speaking for the Department of Design and Construction, DDC Coordinator Jennifer Lester had a long list of projects, from a diversion sewer on Flushing Bay (anticipated completion date, summer 2017) to a distribution water main replacement in Astoria and Long Island City and the rehabilitation of the Astoria water trunk (anticipated completion dates, summer 2018 and 2019; respective cost estimations, $30.735 million and $22.190 million), with several in between.  These would include a pedestrian safety project on 31st Street, under the elevated train tracks, at the 39th Avenue, 36th Avenue and Broadway train stations, with completion
date expected this fall; and a roadway milling project on 21st Street, exactly as expensive as the Astoria water trunk project and federally bankrolled, which means that though no work on it has yet begun, it must be finished next month because federal law demands it be.  
Lester also covered water service interruptions, saying that prior advance notices of 72 and 24 hours would be provided to the affected neighborhoods.  If shutoff should run past the promised service restoration time, the Community Construction Liaison should be notified or 311 called.  Koulouris said that multi-agency projects in the CB 1 district in the next five years should be mammoth.

Karen Dennis, president of the Police Community Council’s Service Area No. 9, said that anyone with old shoes that are no longer needed can send them to her and she would see if they could be recycled as material for roadways or, if in relatively good shape, they could be repaired and polished for the needy.  Her number is 718-207-3000 and her email is  pccpsa9@yahoo.com.



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