2018-01-17 / Front Page

CB 1 Holds January Meeting; Discusses Girl Scouts, Homeless Services And Development

By Thomas Cogan
The Community Board 1 cabinet meeting had its usual official list of speakers, all of whom were able to attend in January, and an unofficial list, full of speakers ready to address the attendees without needing to be persuaded.  One of those in the latter group was Amanda Nasner of the Department of Homeless Services, who jumped the line entirely and led off the meeting, because she could spare only a few minutes before having to go to another event.  Others from one list or another included representatives of The Floating Hospital; the Mayor’s Office of Mental Health; the Department of Environmental Protection; the Department of Transportation; and Parks/Recreation & Cultural Services, introducing the new local manager, replacing one who had reported to the meetings for quite some time.

Nasner talked mainly about the Girl Scouts and the troop that was started for homeless girls last year.  Florence Koulouris, district manager for CB 1 and moderator of the meeting, immediately said she had seen scouting do “a world of good” for girls trapped in homelessness (“Kids need to be kids,” she added), and she and Nasner lamented that there’s no Boy Scout troop yet.  Nasner said the troop needs more leaders, and pursuant to that there would be all-day training for prospective leaders Saturday, January 20 at 120 Wall Street.

Cynthia Davis of The Floating Hospital reviewed several of its services, including several volunteer doctors, such as one cardiologist from Lenox Hill Hospital who volunteers twice a week at TFH, which has headquarters at 41-40 27th St. in Long Island City.  She said the weekly service at Queensbridge Houses currently bring in 450 patients per week.  She observed a rising statistic she found lamentable:  service to the homeless, which had 23,000 visitors annually when begun 20 years ago but now has 150,000, most of them children.  She said few if any of them are turned away, but with Medicaid funding down severely, service is made much more difficult.

Krystyna Pereyra, outreach coordinator for mental health and first aid liaison, Office of the Mayor, introduced a program to the attendees called Thrive NYC, for those undergoing stressful circumstances.  She said that workshops are being held at the Flushing and Merrick Boulevard libraries and the health center in Long Island City.  Further information is available by calling 917-225-9173.

Chris Boccia, superintendent of QW1 of the Department of Sanitation, said this year’s snow removal training came just in time, on the eve of the snowfall during the first week of the year.  He said 17 persons have been hired as snow laborers, to remove snow at bus shelters and other places where plowing isn’t feasible.  He heard from his audience about slow response in some places and snow blockage at some bus stops that didn’t get attention.

Chae No, community liaison from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is spreading the word that influenza isn’t being taken as seriously as it should be.  In 2016, he said, flu vaccinations among black and Asian persons were down significantly, though the rate among whites remained steady.  He said the young tend to ignore inoculations and “trust their bodies,” perhaps too much.  He said they’ve picked a bad time to slough off; the 2017-18 flu season is notably bad.  He said that school education programs have worked well in the past, but funding cuts are impinging on them now.

Shirley Echeverria is a new manager for Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, replacing a long-familiar figure, Norman Chen.  Like Boccia, she had a snow removal narrative too and said that clearing the stuff away at parks and schools was difficult this month.  For one thing, the district is large but understaffed and under-equipped.  She said a small tractor gained through political funding was appreciated but lacked a plow, though a bucket and snow blower were provided.  The bucket was not for snow removal and the blower needed more snow to be effective.  Asked about playgrounds and Ravenswood, she said the agency is limited to exterior areas—and not interior ones that are the responsibility of the schools and NYCHA.  Sidewalks are such a chore, she said, that everything else must follow and winds up neglected.

The meeting was turned over to general talk and hearing from those representatives who hadn’t had the chance to speak up to then.  Ed Cádiz said snow removal was impossible on sections of 12th and 13th Streets where abandoned cars sit and general junk dumping—old televisions and broken furniture, for instance—goes on.  Karen Ellis, borough coordinator of community affairs for the Department of Environmental Protection, said that while the recent cold weather has caused many pipes to burst, DEP does not come out to heat them to lower the risk.  Getting a head start on spring, she said that the rain barrel season runs from early April to early August.

Melissa Johnson of the Department of Transportation said the 49th Street Bridge over the Grand Central Parkway is currently being repaired.  She said it is not a huge overhaul and made sure to say that DOT is being very careful not to disrupt burial services at St. Michael’s Cemetery.  Two women from Urban Upbound were at the meeting to talk about its college awareness program for high school students and those aged 18-24 who might be post-high school but could still use guidance toward obtaining higher education.




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