Tag Archives: 311

Pol, residents call on Jackson Heights Starbucks to clean up its garbage


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated: Tuesday, March 4, 11:07 a.m. 

A group of Jackson Heights residents are telling one Starbucks shop that enough is enough.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm gathered with residents in front of the Starbucks located on 78-25 37th Ave. Friday to call attention to the growing issue of garbage being dumped on the residential block of 79th Street instead of in front of the coffee shop.

“It’s really kind of sad that we have to be out here because we are trying to work so hard with Starbucks to get them to be responsible but yet they remain irresponsible and they don’t want to help the neighborhood,” said Dromm. “They’ve become bad neighbors and they refuse to cooperate.”

The councilmember, who lives on 78th Street, said he has attempted to reach out to the manager of the location and the Starbucks district office but has not heard back from them.

For the past year and a half, Dromm’s office has received numerous complaints from 79th Street residents about the garbage, which at times become mountainous piles and are left out on the curb for more than a day.


Photo Courtesy Office of Councilmember Daniel Dromm

“This is a real quality of life issue especially for those of us whose apartments face 79th Street where we are subject to loud garbage pickups in the middle of the night, food and coffee grinds that are strewn along the sidewalk and street and never cleaned up,” said resident Susan Latham. “It’s disgusting.”

The residents have also tried calling 3-1-1, but say no fines have been issued because Starbucks leaves the garbage close to 50 feet away from its location, making it hard to find.

“Starbucks has been littering heavily on 79th Street for several years. This is against the law,” said resident Elisa Carlucci, who lives on 79th Street. “City agencies, such as the Business Integrity Commission and 3-1-1, although acting in good faith, have been unable to have any impact because they’re searching the wrong area – in front of the business’ storefront.”

Dromm has also sent a letter to the Starbucks district office, saying the store is breaking a city administrative code that requires businesses to place their garbage on the curb at certain designated times.

“We’re going to ask people, don’t patronize Starbucks until they work with the neighborhood,” Dromm said. “Enough is enough, we’ve had it.”

Starbucks will be looking into this case and make sure all standards are being met, according to company spokesperson Laurel Harper.

“Being a good neighbor is really important to Starbucks, and we have stringent cleanliness standards in place for our stores and for the proper disposal of garbage,” Harper said. “We’re looking into this and making sure our standards are being followed, and look forward to working with our neighbors to address their concerns.”

 

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South-eastern Queens to get more sewers to alleviate flooding


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

FILE PHOTO

South-eastern Queens neighborhoods, which have long suffered from perpetual flooding, may see some immediate relief after the city announced it would work quickly to create new storm sewers and upgrade catch basements.

A multi-year, $6 billion sewer-upgrade plan to manage the area’s flooding was announced earlier this year, but the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has initiated smaller, targeted projects to control the issues in the interim, including new storm sewers and catch basin upgrades.

“I am very much looking forward to these essential improvements,” said City Councilmember Donovan Richards. “For far too long, large sections of southeast Queens have had to deal with sub-par sewer systems and I eagerly await the relief these new initiatives will bring.”

Storm sewers and 14 new catch basins were installed on 111th Avenue between 155th and 158th Streets and 113th Avenue between 156th and 157th Streets in South Jamaica. There are currently a number of other flood-prone locations under consideration for similar upgrades, according to the DEP, which will be approved in 2014.

These targeted sites are being chosen based on input from elected officials, community groups and 311 flood reports.

“Ground water and flooding issues within southeast Queens cannot be resolved without total cooperation from all involved and we must stay vigilant to ensure the funding continues,” said City Councilmember Leroy Comrie.

More than $383 million have been used over the last ten years to continue to extend the area’s sewer system and the DEP has allocated an additional $380 million for the next ten years.

 

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Woodhaven noise complaints raise concerns


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

With summer coming, concerns about noise are among the top worries in the neighborhood, as addressed at the June 15 meeting of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA).

WRBA President Ed Wendell said many sound abusers have been a constant problem for residents. He added they often continue the noise, if not even raising the volume, if 3-1-1 is called.

WRBA recently ran an online survey that drew replies from 45 people, Wendell said. He explained that thirty-two of the complaints were for loud parties, while 39 of the total incidents took place between 6 p.m. and midnight.

“I know a couple of people here in this room have issues with neighbors that are chronic locations where the behavior, while not only rude, in some cases borders on harassment,” he said. “It sounds like what’s happened is they’ve complained a number of times, the people that have been complained about got wind of it, and now they’re fighting back with behaviors that would be considered harassment.”

While many of these complaints relate to parties, WRBA Treasurer Vance Barbour said he recently encountered two vehicles blasting music on Jamaica Avenue so loudly that the vibrations shook the cars’ windows.

“It’s just ridiculous,” he said, “They’re just wiping out our whole commercial strip.”

There were 53 calls to 3-1-1 from May 25 to June 17 within Woodhaven’s zip code, according to city data. Thirty of those calls fell under the categories of “loud music/party” or “car/truck music.”

The 102nd Precinct is taking a proactive approach to combating chronic noise makers, according to community affairs officer Jose Severino. Officers in the past have given a warning to partiers, only to turn the corner to hear the music return, he said.

Now, Severino said the precinct is issuing summonses and nipping the problem in the bud.

“I’m taking a different approach,” he said. “I don’t want to go in August, I want to go right now and take care of it.”

 

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Tree complaints top 311 calls


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Fallen limbs and downed branches, among other issues, still top the list of complaints to 311 within Community Board 10. Since the storm struck on October 29 through the end of 2012, there were 1,425 calls to the city about trees. In December alone, nearly 200 calls were put in from residents in the board’s zone about tree problems.

Sandy may have downed many trees in Ozone Park and Howard Beach the night of the storm, but wind-damaged branches could still be a problem, said board chair Elizabeth Braton.

“After a storm, when you have a lot of damage, you have other trees that were damaged but the branches didn’t fall — but they go down sometime later,” she said.

While city agencies still deal with recovery more than two months later, Braton said the board will meet during 2013 about plans for another Sandy-caliber storm. This includes what sorts of trees will be planted that can withstand flooding and winds.

“That will come up as we meet with the Parks Department over the course of the year,” Braton said. “Things are going to be much better as we learn from [Sandy]. But right now we’re still in the immediate mode.”

 

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FEMA to help homeowners after hurricane


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Queens homeowners who suffered damages as a direct result of last month’s Hurricane Irene may now qualify for federal assistance.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared the county a disaster area, allowing individual residents, business owners and non-profits to apply for reimbursement from necessary expenses and compensation from repairs.

“We went out and performed what we call a preliminarily damage assessment, where we go and look at neighborhoods that were affected based on 3-1-1 [calls],” said FEMA spokesperson Gary Weidner. “Queens warranted enough damages to qualify for federal assistance.”

For those who qualify, FEMA aids in temporary housing, vehicle repairs, home renovations not covered by insurance — including household items like room furnishings and appliances — and other disaster-related medical and dental costs.

Before a determination on eligibility can be made, FEMA will first send an inspector to investigate damage claims. The inspector will then file a report.

“It may not make them whole again, but what it will do is help make the house safe and secure,” Weidner said.

As of September 15, FEMA announced that it will also provide assistance to residents who have become unemployed because of the hurricane. Under the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program — among a few eligibilities — those who were injured in the disaster and are unable to work, or those whose workplace or mode of transportation were destroyed, can apply for weekly benefit payments.

The deadline for the DUA program is October 12. Benefits are payable through March 4, 2012. To apply, first file for regular employment insurance with the New York State Department of Labor at 1-888-209-8124.

To register for housing assistance or for more information, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or visit www.disasterassistance.gov. Be sure to have your social security number and insurance information.