2018-11-14 / Front Page

Dutch Kills Civic Discusses Amazon's Move To LIC

By Thomas Cogan

The Dutch Kills Civic Association’s November meeting came two days after Election Day and briefly went through a couple of political outbursts before turning back to the usual run of local political figures, a report from the 114th Police Precinct commander and a transition from one DKCA leader to another as incumbent President George Stamitiades led the meeting until turning it over to the new leader, Tony Benetatos, who had an expanded version of ideas he’d brought up in October, when he was elected president.  In November, he had his audience suggesting topics to cover and attendees were demonstrably eager to suggest.

The meeting began with a visit from Assemblyman Brian Barnwell.  He said that he ruined two suits and wore out two pairs of shoes while campaigning in recent weeks and was going to fight for early voting from now on.  He suggested it could be conducted over a six-day period and would be much more manageable than the current system, which jams nearly all the voting activity into one day.

Commander Deputy Inspector Osvaldo Nuñez of the 114th Police Precinct had a report which he found a bit frustrating, since despite repeated warnings, grand larceny and grand larceny auto incidents keep being committed, as though the victims were asking to be violated.  He said that grand larceny will only get worse from now till 2019, since the larcenous will be on the prowl during the holiday season and the public will have many gifts for them, almost as if deliberately.  

He took the time to wonder anew why people continue to become distressed by phone calls announcing that they are being investigated by Internal Revenue and can have that burden removed if they will send the delinquent amount of owed taxation to a provided address, paying only in money cards.  The IRS does not call anyone on the telephone, the commander said, and it certainly doesn’t take penalty payments in money cards.

An incident of violence in a local hotel had some at the meeting wondering if it had been homicide.  No, the commander said, it was a case where a dominatrix would meet her appointed customers in her hotel room, but on the night in question she allegedly had a visit from four men said to be acquainted with her, who robbed her of her money and sex toys.  
When Tony Benetatos assumed leadership of the meeting, he immediately asked for issues they might discuss under his presidency.   The first one to be mentioned was traffic.  This appears especially urgent considering how an already awkward situation on roadways and train tracks is now confronted with the possibility of a gigantic Amazon installation added to it.  The second was affordable housing—the real thing, not the $3,900 per month version.  

Three variations on the traffic theme followed:  the trains and volume of ridership; taxis, or any vehicle with a T-license, jamming the streets; and an increase in traffic lights and speed bumps.  A closer look at HQ2, the Amazon deal, was demanded.  What political figures, local or distant, have been promoting it?  John Todaro, representing City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, said the HQ2 issue has descended on LIC through federal, state and city effort, and it’s time for local popular participation.

Finally, there was the nightclub issue, lately represented by Aces and Studio Square.  This had the most direct result, since the Community Board 1 meeting on Tuesday, November 20 was to go over the charges of disruption and even violence coming from those places. 

Benetatos alled for volunteers out of those in the room to accompany him to that meeting and several responded, giving his presidency a significant early moment.

Councilman Van Bramer’s statement on Amazon in LIC

"HQ2 has to work for Queens, not just Amazon.  We already have an infrastructure deficit in Long Island City.  Our community has been fighting for more and better transportation, affordable housing, schools and open space for years but overcrowding issues persist.  Before anything is confirmed with Amazon, we’ve got to make sure that we could handle this and that sustainable infrastructure would be put in place to prevent our communities from being overwhelmed.  We cannot allow longtime residents to be driven out by rising rents and congested transit.  HQ2’s potential impact on the people who live in Long Island City and the surrounding neighborhoods of Woodside, Astoria and Sunnyside, including tens of thousands of NYCHA residents, must be front and center. The lack of transparency in this process is outrageous.  We’re talking about a multi-billion dollar development.  Where is the community engagement?  What does this mean for Queensbridge Houses?  How much is being promised by the governor and what is Amazon doing for our city in return?  This plan should not be delivered with special subsidies and corporate welfare from taxpayer dollars.  This isn’t a done deal.  The local community must be heard."


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