2017-04-19 / Front Page

Caring Kind, NYPD & Queens Library Speak At CB 1 Meeting

By Thomas Cogan

The Community Board 1 cabinet meeting for April had a short agenda of speakers, made shorter by one no-show, but off-agenda representatives  made up for that deficit.  First to speak were two women from Caring Kind, formerly Alzheimer’s Association, NYC Chapter; and what they had to say about living with loved ones who have this affliction rang familiarly with at least one person in the boardroom at Kaufman Astoria Studios. A man from the ASPCA said it’s his job to go to meetings such as this one to plead the cause of abused or neglected animals in a city where fortunately there is much sympathy but, unfortunately, still a lot of abuse going on.  The last scheduled speaker was from Queens Public Library, with news of repair work on branch libraries in the community board’s district.  The unscheduled speakers included one from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the folks who bring us the Rat Academy.  

Marcia Henne and Sue Mei were at the meeting from Caring Kind, presenting to their audience the merciless fact that there is no prevention or cure for Alzheimer’s; there is only maintenance and care of patients. The city contains more than a quarter-million Alzheimer’s patients, a number all too likely to rise because of the large elderly population. Henne said she was drawn to working for Caring Kind after having to look after her mother, who was stricken with Alzheimer’s in her final years. She said that Caring Kind offers training and education programs that among other things show caregivers how to care for their patients and also maintain their own bearings.  Programs include understanding dementia;  Medicaid  home care seminars; legal and financial seminars; and family caregiver workshops.  The women also passed around a two-disc metal bracelet for patients to wear, which has basic but vital medical facts for persons who might encounter  such patients wearing them, who have wandered away from their caregivers  or minders.  

CB 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris brought up her sad experience with her mother-in-law, who had both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.  She wound up caring for her extensively because the patient’s own family became distressed and fell into denial over the dementia that had struck a person they knew and loved.

The man from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,  Humane Law Enforcement Division (NYPD Liaison) was James Dean, who had been a city police officer for 31 years.  He said the NYPD now has animal cruelty squads and the district attorney’s office in Queens has someone looking into animal cruelty offenses—which could mean that law officers have come to the realization that 800 calls monthly to 311 about such offenses indicates that there should be squads and specialists to look into them.  Dean said that such horrors as cages full of starving pit bulls in dark cellars have come to light.  These dogs are neglected by their owners, some of whom are drug dealers who use them as creatures of intimidation.  He said that simple dogs and cats, pets to domestic violence victims, may be the only friends in the world these poor men and women have.  Police delivering them to shelters might try to let them bring their pets along, though few shelters allow that, Dean said.  He cited an organization called Guardians of Rescue, whose members try to deliver dog houses to pets whose owners leave them outside in cold weather.

Luisa Benedetto, government affairs manager for Queens Public Library, said that more than ever, libraries have come to be considered community centers.  She was happy to report that the state gave QPL more than $4 million for capital improvement, and while that is welcomed, a far greater amount is needed and the library is seeking funding.  She said the four QPL branches in the CB 1 district are Broadway, Astoria, Steinway and Long Island City.  Broadway’s renovations include newer computing equipment, refurbished restrooms and roof repair; Astoria’s entrance accessibility is being improved and also its automated check-out; Steinway’s elevators, its entrance ramp and its automated checkout are being repaired; but Long Island City, which opened only a few years ago, is not on schedule for any repairs.  

Health and Mental Hygiene’s Joe Marsiliano said springtime is mosquito time, so any standing pools of water, some of their favorite breeding grounds, should be reported.  Also, spraying against West Nile and Zika viruses will soon begin.  He said the war on rats is resurging, explaining that one reason for rodent infestations is the presence of myriad bars and restaurants, which have a lot of discarded foodstuffs waiting for collection outside their doors.  He said that he will be conducting a Rat Academy at the Astoria Civic Association meeting, Tuesday, May 6 at 7:00 in Riccardo’s by the Bridge, 24th Avenue near 21st Street. 

It is actually a class on preventive measures that if carried out correctly should give rodents little or no   incentive to come calling.  He said on a previous occasion that it should last about 45 minutes.

Joanna Rojas of the city’s Department of Design and Construction  announced that a milling and resurfacing project with two inches of asphaltic concrete was due to begin the evening following the meeting, on 21st Street between Broadway and 47th Avenue.  It had been delayed approximately a week.  Limited street access on certain blocks is usually a consequence of such projects, though deliveries to commercial and residential properties are allowed, as well as emergency vehicle access .  Another is parking restrictions, and citizens are always asked to adhere to Department of Transportation instructions.

At the opening of the meeting, there was a tribute by Florence Koulouris to Sal Gagliardo, a former CB 1 member who died recently at the age of 103.   She said that he served on the board until failing eyesight forced his retirement, when he was 100.  His wife, who was 98, died a few days afterward.


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