2019-02-13 / Front Page

CB 2 Meets For Feb; Talks Amazon & Homeless In NYC

By Thomas Cogan

Community Board 2 met on February 7 to go over its usual raft of topical items, though one of them, the Amazon issue as related by Amazon representatives, was not taken up because those representatives sent their regrets and did not appear.  It seemed like nearly everyone else had something to say about the company though, as its grand plan for establishing a second headquarters in Long Island City encountered a lot of local resistance.  
Otherwise, there was an informative address from the Waterfront Alliance, which seeks to instruct this city to have a greater realization of the hundreds of miles of shoreline it has and how more than ever we the residents must live wisely with it.  A long explanation followed about repairs that must be done to a set of buildings in Sunnyside Gardens and how they must be in harmony with Landmarks Preservation requirements.  Public commentary referred to homelessness, public housing, composting, Amazon and more Amazon.  

A politician’s representative and a politician in person led off the meeting.  Kenny Madrano, speaking for City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, announced that a new elementary school, PS 384, will be built in Hunters Point South and a stop sign will at last be put up a few blocks away at Fifth Street and 45th Avenue.  He heard a complaint from a board member that a new homeless shelter in Blissville will be populated by only 10 percent of the local homeless and 30 percent from the borough at large.  

Assemblyman Brian Barnwell announced a couple of events for women on Skillman Avenue in Woodside.  The first is a women’s empowerment meeting at the Woodside Library, Skillman and 52nd Street, on Wednesday, February 20, noon to 3:00 p.m.  The second is a week later, Wednesday, February 29, when the Mammogram Bus will be parked at Skillman and 50th Street from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and mammograms and clinical breast exams will be available at no cost.

Those eligible are women aged 40-79 with health insurance; and women aged 50-79 without health insurance.  They must be currently living in New York city and have had no mammograms in the past 12 months.  For an appointment, call 718-651-3185 or 877-628-9090.

Karen Imas of the Waterfront Alliance came to the meeting to speak about WA in general and also its Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines, or WEDG.  She said that since Long Island City is at least partially within a flood plain, its residents should constantly remind the relevant municipal agencies that it’s their duty to maintain the safety of LIC and all neighborhoods similarly situated.  That would take in a lot of the city, with its huge stretches of waterfront.  

The alliance states that its concern is for “resilient, revitalized and accessible coastlines for all communities.”  With climate change upon us it is necessary that we be mindful of the flood plains not only as they are today but as they are likely to be years from now, or even centuries.  Imas said the alliance consults with anyone across the city concerned with water’s edge sustainability and will assert itself in any waterside project to advise if it is being carried out well or questionably.  An inquirer brought up Amazon and its assumption of Plaxall’s plans for Anable Basin, the inlet on the East River.  She said that no matter who is in charge it should be monitored to see if it will be beneficial for or harmful to the vicinity’s residential and commercial neighborhood.  She said that businesses needing access to a waterfront have begun to heed proper maintenance of it.  She cited a cement plant in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx that has sought guidance on sustainability. 

The owner of the apartment complex at 46-01 Skillman Ave. in the Sunnyside Historic District, has made an application to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, seeking its approval to make extensive repairs to the buildings’ parapets and facades.  Past attempts to make repairs, apparently done before Sunnyside Gardens acquired landmark status a decade or more ago, have left the parapets in bad shape.  Some of them (Type A) are decorative, others (Type E) not.  

The commission informed the owner, MVM, that the applications would require a public hearing.  Appearing before the community board in February was Michael Nataro, an architect for MVM.  His explanation of the repair process in this project was not easy to understand, and excerpts of the application appearing in the meeting agenda were no easier.  
The application says the parapet types have to be raised by different heights “to comply with the parapet fall protection height requirement outlined in the NYC building code.”  The façade application is for installation of four “new lantern post lighting fixtures at the rear pedestrian walkway” of the building at the northern portion of the lot.

Later, when board committees made their reports, Lisa Ann Deller of the land use committee made a motion for approval of the application.  It was carried, but there were three negative votes.

Riko is the restaurant at 45-23 Greenpoint Ave. whose application for an unenclosed sidewalk café with 10 tables and 20 seats was tabled in January because there were no representatives at the meeting.  There were two in January but the attorney for the enterprise was not among them and again the application could not be considered.
Other committee reports included one from transportation by Sheila Lewandowski.  She said that repairs on the elevated 52nd and 69th Street stations over Roosevelt Avenue on the No. 7 line will be started about a year from now, in early 2020.  Also, the starting date of a five-year plan to build accessible stations alternately—every other stop—for senior and disabled riders, has yet to be determined.

The public comment segment was relocated appearing near the time for adjournment.  First to speak was Mark Papish, Assemblyman Barnwell’s chief of staff, who also makes independent commentary.  He said that 89,000 homeless persons in New York is an obvious policy failure.  He asked how Amazon might help them or the beleaguered residents of NYCHA housing.

Raquel Namuche came to the meeting from Ridgewood to deplore Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan’s acceptance of the Amazon deal.  Nolan’s district ranges from Ridgewood to Astoria and Namuche is covering the ground herself, getting protestors’ signatures on postcards to be sent to Nolan’s office.

A woman from Sunnyside was distressed by suggestions that a portion of public housing be privatized, which Mayor de Blasio has reportedly considered.  She added that Amazon will make everything worse.  A woman from the LIC Coalition also put in an anti-Amazon protest and a man identifying himself as Robert T. but taking the name of his insurgency, Not One Block More, as a personal appellation, called for barricades-like resistance to Amazon.

Gil Lopez, long associated with Smiling Hogshead Ranch on lower Skillman Avenue, near the railroad tracks, has become a project coordinator for NYC Compost Project, funded by the Department of Sanitation. He talked about food scrap drop-off sites located throughout the city.  Locations are listed on the departmental Web site, @dsny.nyc.gov.  The compost produced is retained to revitalize and remediate the city’s soils.  Lopez is also with Big Reuse and can be reached at gil@bigreuse.org.   

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