2018-10-10 / Front Page

CB 2 Holds October Meeting

By Thomas Cogan
The Community Board 2 meeting for October had a report about a local institution, a hospital, and  what could be described as a local problem, a library that’s taken about as long to build as an Egyptian pyramid.  Tiny Blissville was prominent again, not only for hotels for the homeless but also for a scourge of vendors.  The drive to name an old Phipps Houses playground after a firefighter killed in service was brought up more than once and a vote of resolution for a petition in its behalf was requested.  Inevitably, there had to be a discussion about the proposal on November’s ballot to put term limits on members of community boards throughout the city.  There was a vote on an application by a 47th Avenue restaurant for an unenclosed sidewalk café, and much else.

The quest for a library in Hunters Point has been going on for 20 or so years.  An abridged history, including only recent events, is necessary.  It begins in early 2011, when Steven Holl and Chris McVoy, of Holl’s architectural firm in Manhattan, submitted plans and models of the library they wished to create, one that would stand beside the East River.  On a cold morning in January 2015, there was an outdoor press conference on Center Boulevard, beside the fenced-in, frozen mound of mud that was the site of construction, which was promised immediately and was hopefully expected to be done in 2017.  Later that year, there was a presentation about it at the Sculpture Center on Purves Street.

By late September 2016, a shell of the building had gone up and on a misty,  drizzly day, a press conference beside it gave still-hopeful advocates reason to believe there might be an opening day ceremony some time the following year---2017 of course.  That year passed and most of 2018 too, with further construction done, but at a site where it looked as if the project would never end.

At last week’s meeting, a QPL representative said he was “excited” about the latest report, but Tom Foley, of the Department of Design and Construction, said it is working with a contractor from California who won a low-bid contest and currently has financial difficulties.  The city, he also said, has “no vehicle” for getting free of the contractor and bringing in another to complete the work. 

The original budget for construction reportedly was $23 million and the latest quote is $37 million, though the sum of $41 million has also been heard.  The QPL man expressed gratitude to local officials for raising such funds.

Caryn Schwab, public affairs officer for Mount Sinai Queens Hospital, had a slide show about the new Mt. Sinai Queens Pavilion, 25-20 30th Ave., and other new and nearby places, about which her enthusiasm was so strong she said that Mt. Sinai Queens makes them envious at Mt. Sinai in Manhattan.  She spoke highly of oncology services and cancer surgery and also the MSQ Infusion Center, 27-15 30th Ave., which she called a state-of-the-art treatment center for cancer and blood disorders.  She also showed a photo of what she called “our toy,” a robotic machine that can perform microsurgeries.  Surgeons using it must first receive intense training in robotics.

It was on to the use of catheters for treatment of prostate and uterine ailments and then to advances in taking on stroke prevention.  She said the hospital was brought up short some time ago by the realization that there was no knowledge there of surgery to remove plaque from the brain that can cause stroke.  Last year at this time, MSQ was the first hospital in the borough to begin using that plaque-removal procedure.

Taking questions, she was first asked about the relationship between Mt. Sinai and Elmhurst Medical Center.  She said that MSQ could not survive without being in medical partnerships; and even then it must operate at a deficit to offer certain care.  To a question about geriatrics she said that good geriatricians are hard to find.  The hospital was sorry to see one leave in June but has since recruited another from Mt. Sinai Manhattan.

Community public comment was next.  Warren Davis expressed his gratitude to the meeting for its support of Blissville residents in the past year, as several hotels in and around it were converted to homeless shelters.  His wife thanked City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and the officers of the 108th Precinct for their attention to it.

A Blissville resident, Murray W. Galonoy, said that in addition to other misfortunes, Blissville is now beset by street vendors who have come to sell their wares, most of them edible but also including used clothing, which is being sold out of suitcases.  He said that much of this activity takes place outside the back end of an apartment house, where the residents have to keep their windows shut in cold or warm weather to lessen the bother of food odors and vendors’ noise. 

Michael Davidson, a firefighter, father of four and former Sunnyside resident, was killed while on duty at the scene of a fire on St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, early Friday morning, March 23.  Since then, Jamie McShane of Sunnyside has been campaigning to have the old Phipps playground at 50th Street and 39th Avenue named after him.  At the meeting, he asked for a resolution for the petition he has been circulating. Matt Wallace, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s chief of staff, said the absent councilman was all in favor of it.

Meghan Cirrito, wearing a T-shirt that declared, The Book Was Better, came to the meeting to denounce the repeated delays for the opening of the Hunters Point Library.   She had a copy of a letter written to Mayor de Blasio during the summer in which she and several community associations asked him for “leadership in completing the Hunters Point Library and delivering the community jewel we were promised over a decade ago.”

Councilman Van Bramer arrived late, having been in Astoria at a celebration for the also-absent Sheila Lewandowski, board vice president and head of the Chocolate Factory Theater, which is moving from Hunters Point to Dutch Kills.  Before he arrived, Matt Wallace announced that $400,000 had been gained for repair of the auditorium at P.S.150, 40-01 43rd Ave.  The councilman added another $100,000 for the school’s technical programs.

CB 2 Chairwoman Denise Keehan-Smith said there would be a local issue on the ballot in November, a move to put term limits on community board members.  After expressing bemusement at the words, “with certain exceptions” on the ballot with no explanation, she observed that in the past two years, the board has welcomed 10 new members, so it for one has no problem with immovable entrenchment. 

One member, Diane Ballek, was in fact congratulated for being on the board for 25 years and that very night receiving a certificate for it from Borough President Melinda Katz’s office.

Senso Unico, a restaurant at 43-04 47th Ave., has submitted an application for an unenclosed sidewalk café with 14 tables and 28 seats.  Finding no fault in the application, the full board accepted Senso Unico’s case unanimously.

Dorothy Morehead delivered an environmental report, saying that Newtown Creek, from time to time called an open sewer, in fact is at its mouth at the East River clean enough to swim in.  Back at the source, though, the huge amount of toxic waste therein will take years of effort to remove.

Dr. Motri Savard, head of the health committee, reported a meeting this month with ACQC, the Aids Center of Queens County.  Once again she praised its program of issuing syringes and drug kits to those suffering AIDS, in an effort to contain its spread.

 

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