2017-11-08 / Features

UCCA Emergency Meeting

BY DR. DAN MILLER, ALEX GARRETT AND GAZETTE STAFF


United Community Civic Association President Rose Marie Poveromo called an emergency meeting for residents of upper Ditmars and the Port Authority to address the most recent proposal by the Port Authority regarding the Marine Air Terminal egress which will negatively impact the community. 
Photo by Alex Garrett/DMD IMAGES © 2017 United Community Civic Association President Rose Marie Poveromo called an emergency meeting for residents of upper Ditmars and the Port Authority to address the most recent proposal by the Port Authority regarding the Marine Air Terminal egress which will negatively impact the community. Photo by Alex Garrett/DMD IMAGES © 2017 United Community Civic Association President Rose Marie Poveromo called an emergency meeting between the Port Authority and residents of upper Ditmars and the Port Authority to address the most recent proposal by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) regarding the Marine Air Terminal egress which will negatively impact the community, especially residents of Astoria.

On Thursday, November 2, the meeting room at Central Lounge (20-30 Steinway Street, Astoria) was filled with dozens of upset residents looking for answers to questions surrounding ground traffic patterns at the proposed redesign of Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport. Astoria residents near the airport are concerned that the new traffic patterns would clog local streets more than they are presently. The main topic was the current gridlock at the intersection of Marine Terminal Road and Ditmars Blvd. They voiced concerns about the huge volume of buses and taxis, construction of the Grand Central Parkway ramp, and general airport construction backing traffic all the way down to 74th Street. A resident suggested the NYPD or Port Authority police (ticket) the car rental agencies and construction workers parking vehicles on 81st Street, from 19th Avenue to Astoria Blvd. North, which is a residential area.

UCCA President Rose Marie Poveromo called the meeting for residents living on 81st and 82nd Streets, between 19th Avenue and the Grand Central Parkway Service Road North, because she thought it would be a good idea to get representatives from the community to address their concerns directly to representatives from the Port Authority, which is responsible for this massive project.

It was a fiery emergency meeting called by the UCCA. The debate raged between the Port Authority, the Governor’s office, elected officials and local residents.

Up for question was whether or not the Port Authority should change the turns from right to left on 80th Street in Astoria as a result of the construction adjacent and at the Marine Air Terminal.

Poveromo told representatives from Governor Cuomo’s office, the Port Authority, NYS Senator Michael Gianaris and NYC Council Member Costa Constantinides, who were present, “The community is deeply concerned about the existing traffic problems, especially the neighbors on 80th and 81st Streets who suffer from congestion and gridlock already.”

Those residents had many urgent questions they addressed to the Port Authority and traffic engineer, Mike LaFazia, who reassured them that this plan to change the turns would create clearer passage through this community, and not make life more difficult for residents.

NYS Assembly Member Aravella Simotas is behind the Astoria residents and their concern for what effects construction at LaGuardia Airport would have on their neighborhood. “I think it is imperative that governmental entities like the Port Authority listen to our local civic associations, especially when a massive construction project like LaGuardia Airport is taking place practically in homeowners’ backyards. Civic Associations aggregate and amplify community concerns that might otherwise be ignored. In Astoria we are fortunate to have engaged community leaders,” she said, regarding the UCCA emergency meeting and community leaders, specifically Poveromo.

Senator Gianaris was appalled by the treatment the Port Authority has shown to the residents of Astoria living near the construction site. He complimented Poveromo for leading the community in this battle against the Port Authority. Gianaris is behind the community 100 percent, and he questioned whether the proposed changes would lead to increased traffic. He received no clear answer.

Council Member Constantinides pledged his support and agreed the issues are of paramount importance to the local residents and the community at large.

Other elected officials attending the meeting were Congress Member Joseph Crowley’s Chief of Staff, AnneMarie Anzalone, who listened intently to the community’s concerns, and Alexia Makrigiannis, Deputy Chief of Staff for Assembly Member Aravella Simotas.

The community has spoken. It is now up to Port Authority to go back to the planning board and come up with a practical solution to the concerns of Astoria residents living near the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airports.

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