2018-11-07 / Front Page

CB 2 Meets Prior To Mid Term Election

By Thomas Cogan

The meeting of Community Board 2 on the first night of November was not heavy with events.

The late board member Al Volpe and Greenpoint Avenue merchant Murray Fox were honored by having streets named for them.  There was more news about the residential project at 69-02 Queens Blvd.  And to expressions of disappointment, one board member said she was leaving, but quickly added she wanted to form a member emeritus group.  

Local politicians or their representatives led off with news items.  Matt Wallace, chief of staff for City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, said the councilman would lead two street-naming ceremonies the following Saturday, the first for Murray Fox at 44th Street and Greenpoint Avenue, where his store used to be.  It would be named Murray Fox Way.  The second would be for Alphonse (Al) Volpe, a longtime CB 2 member who died in 2016.  The corner of Skillman Avenue and 51st Street would now be Al Volpe Way.

Wallace said that $95 million is to be allotted to Long Island City (as part of a repair expenditure roughly twice as large) to build an updated sewer system.  The current underground pipes system hasn’t been improved in decades and in the mad rush to build a new commercial/residential center in the area, new infrastructure got scant attention and is now backing up and flooding buildings and parks most unpleasantly.  Another unpleasantry is what he called “grotesque speech” appearing in the district, first the flyers about illegal aliens pasted on a Skillman Avenue lightpole in mid-October and more recently, anti-Semitic scrawlings on trash cans.

Greg Mitchell, City Councilman Bob Holden’s chief of staff, said the councilman remarked that there were too many overcrowded schools in his district and persuaded Madison Capital Realty, the developers of the as-of-right residential project at 69-02 Queens Blvd. to build a 430-seat school there also.

Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, waiting for January and resumption of legislative activity in Albany, told the meeting he was determined, through his bill to abolish the major capital improvements (MCI) expedient that landlords employ as the gateway to strong rent increases.  He said getting rid of MCI will preserve affordable housing. Stacey Eliuk, former aide to Tish James, the city’s public advocate and candidate for New York state attorney general, added that MCIs were an old Fred Trump trick, before mentioning legislation to restrict dispersal of funds to New York city elections by corporations whose main source of revenue comes from overseas business.

An aide to Borough President Melinda Katz said she has two Queens Borough Hall, Helen Marshall Cultural Center events soon.  First is the annual Veterans Day observance ceremony, Thursday, November 8 at 11:00 a.m.  This year, it also marks the centenary celebration of Armistice Day, which occurred November 11, 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day.  Then, on Tuesday, November 13, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., the Queens 2020 Census Town Hall will be held.  The BP asks that we “come learn about the 2020 census and find out how you can participate in this important outreach effort.”     

An RSVP is requested for each of the events.  Email is queensbp.org/rsvp and the phone number is 718-286-2661.  Queens Borough Hall is located at 120-55 Queens Boulevard.
A man spoke of the need for more transfer high schools in Queens.  These are also known as alternative high schools.  There are more than 50 in the city, with well over 10,000 students, according to an online educational news publication, Chalkbeat, but only five in Queens, all in the eastern part of the borough, the speaker said.  Chalkbeat said in 2017 that transfer high schools “work to quickly catch up students who have dropped out or fallen behind at traditional high schools.”  The speaker is campaigning to get more such schools into other parts of Queens to retain otherwise lost students, who include special education youth and those with disabilities.  

A Blissville resident brought up the recent fatal collision by a drag racer on Review Avenue, saying of the thoroughfare, “It’s in our backyard.”  He wants speed humps on Review.  Deputy Inspector Ralph Forgione, commander of the 108th Precinct, said the speed hump proposal has drawn resistance from truckers and local business.

After the quick approval of the capital budget, Claudia Chan, a board member, asked how its proposals get approved by city officials.  Chairwoman Denise Keehan-Smith replied that it’s a matter of constant petitioning and imploring.  The expense budget got a small item added before also being approved.

The slate of incumbent board officers was not threatened by any insurgent nominees and was therefore continued.  Chairwoman is Denise Keenan-Smith; Lisa Ann Deller is first vice president and Sheila Lewandowski second vice president; Diane Ballek is treasurer; and Norberto Saldana is secretary.

Two more commentators about 69-02 Queens Boulevard spoke up.  Lisa Ann Deller thanked Councilman Holden for assiduously monitoring the project.  Alexis Wheeler, Department of City Planning representative, noted that the tower heights had been reduced.  Wheeler also was moved to hail her predecessor, Penny Lee, who reported to Community Boards 1 and 2 for 20 or more years before retiring and moving to Charleston, S.C. in 2017.  Wheeler said that Lee long advocated using the space under local highway ramps as parkland, rather than leaving them abandoned to weeds and piles of refuse.

Dorothy Morehead made her environment committee report, saying that a recent boat ride she took on Newtown Creek could have been a better learning experience for other riders but was generally fine.  She said that even now, Newtown Creek generates 72,000 jobs.  
Motri Savard’s health committee report included the news that Weill-Cornell plans to build a health facility in Long Island City.  Much more about that should transpire in future. 

Otherwise, Savard said she is leaving Community Board 2, being involved in other activities that make time for board membership difficult.  There were murmurs of dismay, but she said she would be very interested to know who would succeed her as health committee head.  Also, she expressed interest in forming a group of other ex-board members, or as she put it, board members emeritus.
 
 


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