2018-05-16 / Front Page

Police Give Crime Stats At May Dutch Kills Gathering

By Thomas Cogan

At May’s meeting of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, the police report was highly positive except for one category, grand larceny auto.  The commander nevertheless had to warn about phone fraud, since, as he said, many of those receiving fraudulent calls from callers trying to pry their money from them are all too compliant.  In addition, two Metropolitan Transportation Authority publicists were present to talk about extensive repairs being made at two stations on the Astoria elevated line. Their presentation took up nearly all the time remaining for the meeting.  The visual show about what is being repaired or introduced on the line was interesting, though the absence of at least one item, elevators, that might have been introduced, was striking. Otherwise, it’s spring and the vegetables are beginning to ripen in Windmill Park; and a Community Board 1 member who works on its land use committee came around with copies of a survey about Ravenswood, asking that it be filled out.

Commander Deputy Inspector Osvaldo Nuñez said that grand larceny auto had an increase during the past month but all other index crimes were down.  There were five motorcycles stolen.  The rage for cargo vans among thieves is owing to the fact they can be cannibalized because of the interchangeability of component parts that remains current for years.  The commander reasoned that vehicle theft would always be a problem in the 114th because there are so many of them on the streets, in repair shops and on sale lots.

He covered phone fraud again, and when asked if the flood of robo-calls in Mandarin Chinese lately have had criminal intent behind them, he said yes.   A lot of them have been from the “Chinese embassy” and have had the usual messages about stranded or kidnapped relatives whose crises could be alleviated if the call recipients would just send money to . . . 

He said that one victim kept paying out sums until he had spent over $27,000.

Luke de Palma and Bill Montenilli were the two Metropolitan Transportation Authority representatives who came to the meeting to deliver a report on the Enhanced Stations Initiative (ESI).  They said the purpose of it was to bring some stations into a state of good repair and therefore brighter, cleaner and easier to navigate.  It is a five-borough initiative and operations have been completed on two stations in Brooklyn. 

On the Astoria Line, the first two stations to be repaired are the ones at 39th and 36th Streets.  Montenilli handled most of the narrative, aided by a slide show that revealed deterioration in roofs, walls and pillars, as a result of some 90 years of weather and vibrations.  The station had become both shabby and leaky. 

He showed where a new control area dashboard would go, and multiple platform dashboards too.  But they would only come     when leakage was eliminated.  The start of that operation was the sandblasting of walls to remove the paint that had been applied for decades.  He said that the walls without paint on them were revealed as having an attractive buff color of their own.  Enhancements include countdown clocks at street-level entrances and windscreens with art on them.  Cement floors would be replaced by granite ones, though the audience was assured that they would be finished so they would never be slippery, even when wet.  

They said that so far the project is on schedule.  Further station closings would be planned so displaced riders would be able to walk to reasonably close alternate lines, they said, adding that there would be no shuttle buses.  Astoria Boulevard, which is not on schedule for repairs is nevertheless a future consideration.  It is the only station on the line where elevators will be installed, along with other appointments for the handicapped.  It was assumed that the other stations would not have elevators, but hearing a confirmation did not allay the dissatisfaction that has been expressed locally.

There was still hope, though, that the 39th Street station would have signage identifying it as “39th Avenue-Dutch Kills” when the makeover was completed.  Montenilli and de Palma could give inquirers no assurance, but as far as they knew, the request could be granted.  There was a positive word about the art on the windscreens, which locals demanded be done by local artists.  Sure enough, there would be a public proposal process and interviews with interested artists.  In fact, the 30th and 36th Street stations are already due for such installations, they said.

Elizabeth Erion of CB 1’s land use committee was at the meeting to pass out the Ravenswood Community Survey.  Though they looked lengthy, she said they could be filled out quickly and she wished they would be.  Many filled-out forms were returned to her.  She said that community-wide, the survey will be distributed till the end of June.

Steve Morena said anyone interested in voluntary work at Windmill Garden on Saturdays should please let him know.  He said the vegetables were growing steadily and he looked forward to such summer staples as tomatoes.  (One jokester could be heard wondering in a low voice if marijuana would grow well there.)   


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