Tag Archives: Assemblymember Edward Braunstein

Residents unhappy over tax hikes on northeast Queens co-ops, condos

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Elijah Stewart


Bayside-area residents say they are getting fed up with what they believe to be unfair tax increases on co-ops and condos throughout northeast Queens.

“They look at it as they might as well buy a house, which is a larger down payment, than come here and pay enormous amounts in taxes,” said John DePasquale, general manager at Alley Pond Owners Corp., a self-managed co-op in Bayside.  

The unhappy apartment owners say this problem stems from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s lack of action in pushing for a new state tax code that would eliminate the high tax increases on middle-class co-op and condo owners. They hope the next mayor will take action on the issue.

Warren Schreiber from the Presidents’ Co-ops & Condos Council, which represents more than 100,000 owners, said northeast Queens has been hit the hardest by the increased tax evaluations.

“There have been double-digit and in some cases triple-digit increases in tax evaluations,” said Schreiber.

The city Department of Finance lists private homes as Class 1 properties. This means their assessed value, which is set at six percent of the property’s market value, cannot be increased more than six percent a year.

However, co-ops and condos are listed in Class 2, along with rentals and other revenue streamed housing. Their assessment value is 45 percent of the property’s market value, and there is no cap on yearly assessment increases.

While the property tax code is a state law, it is up to the mayor to request changes to city tax classifications.

“Mayor Bloomberg and his predecessor Rudy Giuliani have always opposed changes in the classification system,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

Stavisky said the property classification system for co-ops and condos is unfair and has led to inconsistencies in tax assessments throughout the city. She said she’s working closely with Assemblymember Edward Braunstein to address this issue.

“We’re just part of a middle class that continues to get squeezed harder and harder,” said Arthur Getzel, a teacher at P.S. 26.  Getzel, 59, said many co-ops in the area have been forced to charge higher maintenance fees due to increased tax assessments.

Kevin O’Brien, a recently retired co-op owner at Bell Park Gardens, agreed that the tax situation is unfair.

“If you go to any other co-op development here, Windsor Park, Windsor Oak, Hollis Court, they’re all going to say the same thing,” said O’Brien, 43. “They don’t understand why we’re paying so much property tax for a small number of square feet.”

Others worry about the effect on older owners.

“I think the tax increases are going to push the elderly people out,” said Jennifer Santaniello, 48, of Hollis Court. “I don’t think they’re going to be able to afford to live in Queens.”

A co-op since 1983, Hollis Court currently houses 376 families, according to Santaniello, and 60 percent of its residents are elderly.

Schreiber said the city’s co-ops and condos house tens of thousands of working-class people who are the backbone of the city.

“What many people don’t understand,” said Schreiber, “is that without the money from the co-ops and condos, the city would go bankrupt.”



Pols want to parcel precints into subdivisions

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Local politicians and civic leaders banded together to demand proper police protection in northeast Queens — an area they say is too large geographically and in population density for the current precincts to support all its residents.

According to Senator Tony Avella, the region’s precincts — the 105th and 109th — have been tasked with covering far more than other precincts in Queens.

“Since 2007, the population in these precincts has only increased,” Avella said. “This adds to the pressure the precincts are under to patrol and respond, and it further stretches their limited resources.”

Avella announced his legislation that would divide the 105th and 109th precincts into two separate subdivisions — one representing the northern and one representing the southern portion of the precincts.

According to Assemblymember Edward Braunstein, parts of northeast Queens, including Bay Terrace and Whitestone, are a “considerable distance” from the 109th Precinct’s current headquarters in downtown Flushing.

“In the event of an emergency, it is important that my constituents be in as close proximity as possible to the precinct,” Braunstein said. “Since the 105th Precinct is forced to cover such a large geographic area, many people in Floral Park, Glen Oaks and New Hyde Park believe they have faced a delay in service. This legislation is vital to the safety of our constituents because it would increase response times.”

According to civic leaders, the fight to secure more resources for the two precincts has been a decade-long battle.

“What we’re asking for is our fair share of city resources here in northeast Queens, and we’re just asking for what we deserve,” Braunstein said. “I know that especially in the 109th Precinct, my constituents — especially in Bay Terrace — have been complaining that there is not enough police presence there for years. There are certain places in Whitestone and Bay Terrace where you don’t see a police car ever.”

However, officials say the legislation is not a reflection of the precincts’ commanders and officers. Instead, they said the problem is that the precincts do not have enough resources to patrol the area sufficiently.

“We’ve been fighting this battle for longer than I can remember,” said Warren Schreiber, president of Bay Terrace Community Alliance.

The 105th Precinct covers neighborhoods in Queens Village, Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Bellerose, Glen Oaks, New Hyde Park and Floral Park, while neighborhoods in downtown and east Flushing, including Queensboro Hill, College Point, Malba, Whitestone, Beechhurst and Bay Terrace fall in the confines of the 109th Precinct.

“People in these precincts deserve proper police protection,” Avella said. “They deserve two precincts. Communities change, population increases. There is perfect logic to have these two precincts split into two. The only reason not to have it is money, and that should not be the reason not to do it. It should be based upon safety and response time.”

Both precincts directed comment to NYPD officials, who did not respond as of press time.

However, a police source said a substantial amount of manpower would be required to build the new precincts and subsequently keep them running.

Bayside kicks off holiday season

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Bayside residents and community leaders rang in the holiday season by lighting up the neighborhood.

The Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID) and Bayside Business Association (BBA) hosted their annual Holiday Tree and Menorah Lighting ceremony on November 29 at the BBA headquarters, located at 41-16 Bell Boulevard.

“This marks the start of the holiday season for Bayside,” said Judith Limpert, president of the BBA. “It is a beautiful village atmosphere here. I think today we are all way too dispersed and focused on things that aren’t relevant. Community and family are very important. We also hope to get people to understand that Bayside has a beautiful shopping strip. They should come here first, because they can probably get everything they need for their holiday shopping. The point of this event is to attract Baysiders to come out.”

Holiday lights were also recently installed by the Bayside BID above all the blocks of Bell Boulevard.

“This event only comes once a year, and it really is the beginning of the holiday season and the biggest season for businesses and restaurants here on Bell Boulevard,” said Gregg Sullivan, executive director of the Bayside BID. “Events like this and our street lights really improve business enormously and highlight Bayside.”

The neighborhood organizations were joined at the event by Councilmember Dan Halloran, Assemblymember Edward Braunstein, Father Brosnan from Sacred Heart Church, Father Byrnes from All Saints Episcopal Church and of course, Santa Claus.

“The celebration of light over darkness is what these holidays are all about,” said Halloran. “These lights symbolize that.”

During the ceremony, visitors were serenaded with Christmas carols, and children had the opportunity to tell Santa what gifts they wanted waiting for them under their tree this year. After the lighting, attendees were invited out of the cold and inside the BBA headquarters for hot chocolate and snacks.

“This is a wonderful event for [my goddaughter] to see the tree with all of this nice lighting,” said Rose Lynch, a Bayside resident for 45 years, who brought her goddaughter, Ashley, to the lighting ceremony. “It is a nice introduction to the holidays with spirit. I think this is a cute idea to come and meet Santa in a unique way, which is individual and small. It is delightful.”