2017-04-12 / Front Page

108th Precinct Commander Captain Forgione Gives Crime Report At Community Board 2 Meeting

By Thomas Cogan
April’s Community Board 2 meeting had a string of speakers, beginning with 108th Police Precinct Commander Captain Ralph Forgione, who has to speak to several organizations within his precinct, as most commanders must, and who’s more than up to the task.  He was followed by speakers from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office (about the state budget), the Department of Sanitation (on composting) and Link NYC (electronic connections).  Others from agencies and insurgent groups spoke, along with at least a couple of individuals who operate alone and don’t temper their indignation when they feel it is needed.  There was one application for an unenclosed sidewalk café and a couple of committee reports to round out the evening.

Capt. Forgione began by saying that domestic violence is an offense he is determined to fight.  He asked his audience if any of them had information about violent behavior, would they please let him know.  He turned to the latest index crime statistics and said they were mainly down in the precinct, with the notable exception of burglary.  Outbursts of burglary in neighborhoods tend to be the work of a serial operator, and if and when that perpetrator is apprehended the burglary statistics tend to dip suddenly.  When he asked for questions and complaints, Carol Terrano, board member from Woodside, said that the big trucks are back, parking overnight on the streets in the vicinity of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the way they did before they were run off previously.  The commander said he would check it out.

Hersh Parekh, a representative from Governor Cuomo’s office, said the state budget should have been submitted on April 1, but the state got fooled again.  As a result, extender bills are necessary to keep the government going.  He said there is money in the budget for further work on the Kosciusczko Bridge, which is in the process of being recreated over Newtown Creek.  Nick Circharo, of the Department of Sanitation, delivered the message about the department’s composting program.  Most composting, he said, is the product of discarded food, including skins and peelings.  The department will be delivering brown plastic bins to community boards all over the city, with CB2 due to receive them in the fall.  Everyone can then deposit the stuff of compost into them.  He said these bins are built to be rat-proof.  He also had orange plastic bags to distribute, for collecting food refuse to carry to the bins.

Speaking for LinkNYC was Ruth Fasoldt, external affairs representative.  LinkNYC is a private-public partnership that made a contract with the city in December 2014 to install electronic links citywide, beginning where PPT, or public pay telephones, were formerly located.  LinkNYC discovered that somewhere between one-third to one-half of the PPTs were unbuildable because of such problems as fiber blockage and manhole access, and thus had to install many links that are entirely its own.  These sites are fast becoming familiar, particularly in the form of the informational slabs located at many bus stops.  One of the services provides mobile phone chargers, which are able to go from zero power to 100 percent in 15 minutes, Fasoldt said.  Within Community Board 2 there are 24 active links as of this month, with another 14 either pending or under construction.  Statistics for February, when there were 15 live links, show that there were 190,000 sessions and close to a half-million minutes used.  During that month, the most-used links were at 38-18 and 43-02 Queens Blvd., each with about 13,500 users. 

The local speakers had their moments too, though a representative from City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office could not supply information to the board’s Steve Cooper, who asked about progress, or the lack of it, in building a middle school in Sunnyside on the southeast corner of 48th Street and Barnett Avenue.  Cooper said he’d heard that the circa 1928 brick garage located there, which was supposed to be used as the shell of the new school building but which also has been a matter of controversy with preservationists, is now declared off limits.  Another matter, this one definitely proceeding, is LIC Springs!, a community block party hosted by the Long Island City Partnership and occurring Saturday, May 6, 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. on Vernon Boulevard between 50th and 46th Avenues—rain or shine.  Dan Benjoya of LICP said there would be art and activities, food, fitness and music.

The next few speakers had protests to register.  Michael Forrest and Dan Raymond alerted the audience to the Queens March Against Gentrification, to take place Thursday, April 20.  The plan includes a confrontation of Councilman Van Bramer and a challenge to him to reject elaborate plans that would change Long Island City, Astoria and adjacent communities by pricing out current residents, particularly in NYCHA houses, the two contend.  Following them was Jay Koo, a longtime activist on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, who sees displacement issues in Queens similar to those he has fought for a long time in his old neighborhood.  Grace Chung, associated with the other three, attacked the plan, envisioned by Mayor Bill de Blasio, to build housing on platforms over the Sunnyside Yard.

Next up was Barry Dross, who said that the trouble with the local area is that its code is “real estate first, infrastructure last,” which certainly seems the rule in Long Island City, where new and gigantic buildings stand over old, thin and run-down streets. Dross denounced the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, the proposed light-rail route between Astoria and Sunset Park in Brooklyn.  The Sunnyside Yard housing project was also dismissed, though he does favor a Sunnyside station on the Long Island Railroad.  Then, Bill Kregler was up, finding much to deplore in Woodside, particularly the new but empty building on Queens Boulevard in the 60s, which he fears will become a men’s shelter.  He denounced the Quality Inn and other hotels/motels along that thoroughfare as similar hives for the homeless and got into a disagreement with Board Chairwoman Denise Keehan-Smith over Quality Inn’s continuing hospitality function.  He even aroused Michael Forrest to shout at him because of his apparent contempt for the homeless, whom Forrest described as “good people.”

The unenclosed sidewalk café application was submitted by Bella Via, 47-46 Vernon Blvd.  Steve Cooper made a motion to table it, saying it had thus far been insufficiently discussed.  But Bella Via has many friends on the board, one of whom said that the restaurant has never had a problem with its neighbors, unlike many nearby establishments.  Cooper’s motion was voted down by a raised-hand vote and a roll-call vote approved the application nearly unanimously.

There were two committee reports.  Motri Savard, head of the health and human services committee, praised HealthCare Choices, which provides doctors, therapists, clinicians and dentists to treat a long list of health needs.  HCS has three centers in Brooklyn and Queens, the latter being at 21-10 Borden Ave. (call 718-784-5696).  Dorothy Morehead of the environment committee said that it has been 40 years since the Coast Guard discovered the massive Mobil-Exxon oil plume in Newtown Creek.  She also said the city is that waterway’s worst polluter.







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