Tag Archives: Community Board 10

Community Board 10 says no to juvenile justice program


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

BY ANGELA MATUA

The construction of a Close to Home juvenile justice program in South Ozone Park was the hot topic during the Community Board 10 (CB 10) meeting on Thursday.

The proposed facility in South Ozone Park has angered residents, who say that the city has already opened a number of social service programs in the community, including an adult men’s shelter and a Close to Home non-secure facility.

The Close to Home juvenile justice program would be a limited secure facility featuring a perimeter fence with lighting, gated windows, locked doors and surveillance cameras. The facility is planned for 133-23 127 St., one block away from the non-secure facility and close to Skyway Men’s Shelter.

Board 10 sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 23 to discuss the Fair Share Assessment, a mandate “to further the fair distribution of the burdens and benefits associated with city facilities,” according to nyc.gov.

Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner Gladys Carrion responded to the letter and Betty Braton, CB 10 chair, read the letter aloud to everyone in attendance.

“I understand your concerns about the perceived negative impact of the LSP [limited secure placement] residential facility and the concentration of facilities in the South Ozone Park community,” Carrion said in the letter. “However as described in the analysis, a review of residential facilitates in Community District 10 found that it ranked 57th in the citywide ranking of residential beds by community district with a ratio of 4.5 residential beds per 1,000 people. The citywide average is 19 beds per 1,000 people and the average in Queens is 19.9.”

Braton penned a letter in response to Carrion and also read it aloud on Thursday.

“Although we appreciate your response, it does not address adequately the concerns of the residents in the area immediately surrounding the location,” Braton said. “It does not alter our board’s view or our community’s view that the site selected is inappropriate…While we understand your analysis of residential facilities in our district, we continue to maintain that your decision to place an LSP facility in immediate proximity to another, albeit one less secure, is a poor decision in that it implies that impacts on a community from one type of residential bed facility versus another type of residential bed facility are no different from each other.”

Braton’s letter was met with cheers, especially from residents standing in the back of the Knights of Columbus hall who held signs opposing the facility.

Jahi Rose, director of constituent affairs at Councilman Ruben Wills‘ office, who is strongly against the construction of the facility, thanked the community board for its efforts and said Wills’ office has been using the media to highlight ACS’ mishandling of the issue.

“We’re pretty much outlining that ACS has not been completely forthcoming with us and they’ve been disingenuous with one, notifying us and two, making sure that they are listening to our concerns,” Rose said. “We’re going to continue to fight this fight.”

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BP Katz approves zoning amendment to speed up post-Sandy recovery


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

More help is on the way for Queens residents affected by Hurricane Sandy trying to rebuild their homes.

Borough President Melinda Katz recently approved amendments to citywide zoning codes, which will allow more Sandy-affected homeowners to rebuild their homes faster and to return them to how they were before the storm instead of having to alter them to fit current regulations.

The zoning change is a result of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s overhaul of the city’s Build it Back program, which has started construction on 412 homes in Queens to date, and completed construction on 222.

“This is a vital text amendment that will finally relieve the red tape that had burdened entire neighborhoods and prevented thousands of homes from fully rebuilding since Hurricane Sandy,” Katz said. “Thanks to joint inter-agency collaboration, home and property owners will soon be able to rebuild their homes to their original form prior to the storm, with improved flood resiliency elements.”

The amendment was also approved by Sandy-impacted community boards 10, 13 and 14. It would allow, among other things, more residents to rebuilt their homes faster by waiving document requirements.

Under current laws, before reconstruction can begin on residences, homeowners are supposed to provide documents to show changes made to homes since 1961, which is difficult for most people since their homes probably traded hands since then or documents were destroyed in the storm.

Also, some homes could be required to be constructed much taller than others in the neighborhood because of current zoning. The amendment will create zoning pockets, which will allow homeowners to build shorter and wider homes, which are prevalent in surrounding neighborhoods.

Now with support from Katz, the amendment must be approved next by the Department of City Planning and then the City Council before it can go into effect.

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More tree removal in Howard Beach


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

“X” marks the spot to chop.

The Parks Department has come into Howard Beach for a second round of tree removal.

This is a continuation of the previous tree removal process that took place in September. All Sandy-stricken trees that the Parks Department feels are too far gone and not likely to survive will be cut down and replaced, according to the agency. There is still not an exact number for how many trees will be cut as the agency is still surveying the area.

“The trees marked with an ‘X’ are indeed part of the Sandy removal and replacement efforts, and are scheduled to be removed and replaced over the next year,” a Parks spokeswomen said. “The total number of trees is still evolving and continues to do so as we mark additional trees.”

The Parks Department is still in the process of replanting the ones they took down in September.

At the time, the Parks Department cut down nearly 500 trees in the confines of Community Board 10. These were part of the 48,000 trees citywide they looked at to see if they should be removed.

DSC_0791

To coincide with the project, there is a citywide initiative to plant one million trees throughout the five boroughs. At this point, the city has planted over 938,000 trees since 2007, when the program started. They plan to have the full million planted by 2017.

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SCA to host public sessions on new school coming to Centerville


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The School Construction Authority (SCA) will be hosting a public forum this week on a new school being built in Centerville.

The proposed school, located at Albert Road and Huron Street, will be a big topic of discussion at the next Community Board 10 meeting on Oct. 2 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in South Ozone Park.

The SCA sought the land in an effort to alleviate expected overcrowding in School District 27.  The agency estimates that there will be an additional 990 students in the district by 2017.

The site, which is approximately 72,500 square feet, will be used as a 504-seat elementary school that will run from pre-K to grade 5.

Along with the school building, there are also plans for a large recreational area consisting of courts, a playground and even an outdoor stage, according to the SCA website.

Community Board 10 currently has six elementary schools, four K-8 schools and four middle schools in District 27.

The meeting will begin at 7:45 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, located at 135-45 Lefferts Blvd.

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Sandy-stricken trees to be cut down in Howard Beach


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Dead trees are a common sight in Howard Beach — a constant reminder of the devastation the neighborhood faced nearly two years ago when Hurricane Sandy ripped its way through the area.

But the neighborhood will now witness an arboreal upheaval as the Parks Department moves to uproot and replace a virtual forest of trees.

“Several hundred street trees damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Community Board 10 are slated to be removed and replaced,” said Meghan Lalor, a representative from the Parks Department. “Any tree that was marked for removal was considered to be dead or in such decline that it would not be able to recover to full health.”

The trees and their stumps will be removed entirely and will later be replaced by new trees. Each tree that is slated for removal has an “X” marked on its trunk. The removal process for many of them will take place from Sept. 15 to Sept. 19.

sandy_1

Soon after Hurricane Sandy, the Parks Department went out to survey the storm’s effect on the city’s trees.

The Parks Department looked at about 48,000 trees citywide, and categorized each of them by their leaf coverage. Since then, the department has been monitoring the trees’ leaf coverage and behavior throughout the growing seasons, which has helped identify which trees should be axed.

The exact number of trees to be cut down in Community Board 10 has yet to be determined. Parks is still surveying the neighborhoods to make sure all of the problematic trees are reached.

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Local leaders want Howard Beach protection project to expand, give full-perimeter storm protection


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Follow Maggie Hayes @magghayes

Local leaders want to see full-perimeter protection for low-lying Howard Beach.

The Spring Creek Hazard Mitigation Project, introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo in November, is intended to protect the south Queens neighborhood. Designs from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) show mitigation along Spring Creek Park, from Cross Bay Boulevard to the Belt Parkway.

Although community members are in favor of the plan, they want the project’s scope to expand further.

“We’ve recognized our problems, and it’s great that we’re getting this,” said John Calcagnile, vice-chair of Community Board (CB) 10. “But I want to see a complete perimeter protection.”

Calcagnile and CB 10 Chair Betty Braton said they would like to see the project extend to Old Howard Beach, where a significant storm surge came through from Jamaica Bay during Sandy.

The $50 million project, from federal and local funding, will create higher inland contours, wetland, grassland buffers, dunes, low and high marshes, and tidal creeks, and restore over 150 acres of natural habitat.

The plan’s engineering and design is projected to be complete by Aug. 4, followed by an 18-month construction period.

 

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City Council passes Ozone Park rezoning


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the office of Councilmember Eric Ulrich

The City Council passed a change in Ozone Park’s zoning map Tuesday to reflect the neighborhood’s building patterns.

Now, the zoning mandates will reinforce the area’s one- and-two-family residential homes and direct new residential and mixed-use developments to more commercial locations.

“The new zoning enacted into law today will protect Ozone Park from overdevelopment and help create a more livable neighborhood,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich, who was born and raised in Ozone Park.

“It will also spur new modest development, especially in the commercial districts, thereby creating jobs and increasing property values,” he continued.

The rezoning is bounded by Rockaway Boulevard, Atlantic Avenue and 101st Avenue to the north; the Van Wyck Expressway and Lefferts Boulevard to the east; the Belt Parkway to the south; and the Brooklyn borough line to the west.

This marks the second largest rezoning in Queens, changing the map for roughly 530 blocks in Ozone Park. The vote was prompted by concerns from Community Boards 9 and 10 as well as local civic organizations and elected officials.

“Out of character structures and overdevelopment has become far too common in our communities,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills. “That is why it was important that we undertook these aggressive measures to protect the integrity of our neighborhoods.”

 

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Green cabs could be coming to south Queens


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of TLC

Green cabs could now be driving down south in the borough.

A representative from the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) will be making a stop at the next Community Board (CB) 10 meeting on Thursday, December 5 to explain the new Boro Taxi procedures, rules, and the program’s presence in the region moving forward.

Betty Braton, CB 10 chair, said the outer-borough cabs coming to the community could either be a benefit or a disadvantage depending on “how it rolls out.”

“I would believe on the positive side, it provides a safer way in the outer boroughs for people to do street hails,” she said. “On the downside, we already have an existing problem with livery cabs parking. I would think it would become problematic if the green cabs decide to take up parking spaces or just cruise constantly in the transit hubs.”

Boro Taxis, similar to livery cabs, are affiliated with a base and may take dispatch, flat-fare calls. However, similar to city yellow cabs, they can also make metered, hailed pick-ups.

Currently licensed livery bases apply for an opportunity to affiliate the street-hail liveries, which is then processed and approved by the TLC. Two sites in South Ozone Park already got the green light for green cabs, according to the TLC.

Resident Jesus Garay made a request on the Boro Taxis’ website for a base at the cross section of Woodhaven Boulevard and Rockaway Boulevard, so cabs could serve Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park.

 

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Sewage project could impact South Ozone Park traffic


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the DEP

Jamaica Bay is getting a clean-up, but it will require years of work.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) proposed to spread a citywide project to South Ozone Park next August to prevent untreated sewage from ultimately making its way into the bay.

Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) result from the combination of this domestic sewage and industrial wastewaters with storm water. The project, once completed, will monitor this, and consists of adding higher level sewer separation, wet weather stabilization, drainage basins and more in the event of a future storm.

Currently, plans are in preliminary stages. There will be period for public comment, and the DEP is working with the DOT on road closure potentials.

According to proposal plans, once construction begins, 126th Street between South Conduit Avenue and 150th Avenue will be closed for one year, as will the 150th Avenue westbound lane.

Additionally, the Belt Parkway’s on-ramp near 150th Avenue will be closed for 22 months, and one eastbound lane will be closed for one year during nighttime DOT work hours.

North Conduit Avenue near 150th Avenue will also experience various lane closures for up to two years. A traffic analysis concluded that the left lane can be closed for two months, and the second lane closed at night for two, one-month periods.

The green space between the Belt Parkway and North Conduit Avenue will be closed for two years.

There are also additional flagging areas for trucks, and temporary, short-term closures for truck unloading.

“You do not make an omelet without breaking a few eggs,” said Betty Braton, Community Board 10 Chair. “There are roadway concerns, there will be traffic issues. It’s a lengthy project and they’re trying to do it within a compressed time frame.”

Construction is projected to end by February 2017, and will reduce the volume of CSOs to Jamaica Bay basins by 24 percent.

Despite a busy construction scene, Braton said the benefit in the long-term will be a clean Jamaica Bay after any future storm.

 

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Resorts World Casino welcomes new and free Red Express buses


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

PHOTOS COURTESY OF RESORTS WORLD

Resorts World Casino welcomed a new bus fleet, the Red Express, which will take patrons from Manhattan to the South Ozone Park gambling spot.

Casino president Edward Farrell, Community Board 10 chair Betty Bratton and State Senator Joseph Addabbo greeted the Red Express buses as they pulled into Resorts World, coming in from their first trip down from Manhattan’s Lincoln Center.

The luxury buses will run every 30 to 45 minutes from 10 a.m. to midnight Monday through Sunday. They are free of charge and can hold up to 40 passengers.

The West Side route begins at 96th Street and Columbus Avenue, and goes straight down to Central Park and Madison Avenue. The East Side route begins at 96th Street and Lexington Avenue, and goes straight down to Madison Avenue and Central Park South.

Additionally, the Midtown route starts at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue and runs through 6th Avenue and 50th Street.

All routes end, of course, at Resorts World Casino on Rockaway Boulevard.

 

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Ozone Park rezoning plans on the table


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The map in Ozone Park could soon be changing to allow the community to welcome new development and reinforce its “residential character.”

The Department of City Planning (DCP) proposed a rezoning of the neighborhood in response to the community’s concerns that the existing zoning doesn’t “closely reflect established building patters,” according to the DCP.

Community Boards 9 and 10, local civic organizations and elected officials were among those who voiced their concerns.

“Now more than ever, Ozone Park demands a smarter and more flexible blueprint that protects the character of the residential parts of the neighborhood and strengthens the commercial districts to stimulate economic development,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

The proposed rezoning area is bounded by Rockaway Boulevard, Atlantic Avenue and 101st Avenue to the north; the Van Wyck Expressway and Lefferts Boulevard to the east; the Belt Parkway to the south; and the Brooklyn borough line to the west.

Currently, the area consists of three residential zones which have been left unchanged since 1961. This existing zoning has allowed the development of three-to-four story, multi-family attached houses and apartment buildings.

DCP said this layout does not reflect the “scale and character” of the desired one-and-two family homes, both attached and separate, that are typically found within Ozone Park. Existing zoning additionally doesn’t distinguish the scale of buildings along most of the area’s commercial corridors and prohibits development of larger buildings.

The proposed rezoning is intended to “reinforce neighborhood character and established building patterns,” direct new housing opportunities, allow for a mix of uses to major corridors and prevent commercial encroachment into residential areas.

“As someone who was born and raised in Ozone Park, it will give me great pleasure to participate in the public review process and to vote on its final approval when it reaches the City Council,” Ulrich said.

Community Boards 9 and 10 are now reviewing the proposal, which will also be reviewed by the borough president and the borough board. It will then go to the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

 

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Borough Board votes down raising homes in flood-prone zones


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The borough doesn’t want to raise the stakes on its homes.

The Borough Board recently voted against a freeboarding requirement that would elevate homes in flood-prone zones an additional two feet higher than FEMA standards.

“Our concern was the requirement to go above and beyond the recommended base elevation,” said Betty Braton, chair of Community Board 10.

Additionally, areas such as Howard Beach are still awaiting zoning resolutions from FEMA and a specific elevation requirement that comes with each zone. Preliminary zone and evacuation maps are expected to be released by the end of the summer.

Braton said another concern of the Borough Board was finalizing the freeboarding requirement before individualized elevation requirements are made final.

“It wasn’t necessary that we approve this at this point in time,” she said.

Although the southern region of the borough is no stranger to elevating homes, an additional height requirement will impact people who are in the process of trying to rebuild after Sandy, Braton said.

Borough President Helen Marshall disapproved of the proposal as well, “until there is some consideration of providing financial assistance to homeowners” that will allow them to comply.

The proposal was presented by the Department of City Planning and the Department of Buildings, which are carrying out an executive order, according to the borough president’s office.

 

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Board weighs in on DOT plan to fix Lindenwood parking problems


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Community Board (CB) 10 has approved a new plan, with amendments, to ameliorate parking problems on a Lindenwood block.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed the plan for 156th Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets. It would fix what a representative called a long-standing problem that is part of a larger infrastructure project on the border of Brooklyn.

Temporary parking lines would be painted diagonally on the island between east- and westbound traffic. As drivers head west, they will be able to pull into the spots — as opposed to parking in the middle of the street as many do now.

“Sometimes you have cars parking next to each other on this block, which could become a safety issue,” DOT representative Al Silvestri told the board.

The current plan has drivers backing out on to 156th Avenue, heading west, as they leave their spots. However, along that side of the street, there are homes with driveways that board members said might be in danger.

CB 10 suggested DOT flip the plan so drivers pull out on the eastbound side, where there are no driveways.

“If the parking was on the other side, angled the same way, it would not be a problem,” said Joann Ariola, a board member and president of the Lindenwood Alliance.

“We just want to make sure it works, because we don’t know how long we have to live with this,” she said.
Board members also suggested DOT officials explore putting in a concrete median with parallel parking on either side.

Silvestri said a median has been explored, but would result in fewer parking spots.

Although the board has voted on the change and added suggestions, DOT is not required to implement any of the amended plans.

 

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Bikes, kayaks get green light in Jamaica Bay


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Parks and Recreation

Jamaica Bay visitors are about to get a little bike for their bucks.

The Parks Department announced California-based Wheel Fun Rentals has received the license agreement for much-discussed bike and kayak stands throughout Jamaica Bay.

A site in Queens opened at Rockaway’s Jacob Riis Park over Memorial Day Weekend, according to the Parks Department, with another site at Riis Landing expected to open in mid-June.

“Millions of people visit the parks and beaches at Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways each summer and this concession provides a fun and new recreational amenity,” Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White said in a statement.

Requests for Proposals (RFPs) were released in March to build stands around the park in a pre-Sandy project between the National Park Service and the Parks Department.

Howard Beach residents were upset the Frank M. Charles Memorial Park was included in the proposals even while the park was in dire need of repairs. At Community Board (CB) 10’s April meeting, members asked a Parks representative to consider taking Charles Park off the RFP until something was done to clean it up.

CB10 chair Elizabeth Braton said she’s happy Charles Park was not included in the plan and is hopeful authorities will focus on cleaning it up instead.

“I’m very glad that they took our advice and decided go with appropriate locations,” she said.

Braton added that the board would be open to including Charles Park in future proposals if a clean-up takes place.

 

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Lindenwood to get new assisted living home


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

A new assisted living home is coming to Lindenwood.

Community Board (CB) 10 gave the green light for Birch Family Services to move into a two-family home on 80th Street. The new facility will house up to six young adults with autism or other developmental disabilities.

Before CB 10 members gave their approval, they asked about services, security and staff.

There will be three patients to a floor, and at least two staffers on each level, according to Lester Kaufman, executive vice president of Birch Family Services.

Kaufman said anyone who applies to work at the home goes through a rigorous vetting process. He told the board that in addition to background checks, staffers go through a full training process.

He added that the home has an open-door policy that allows neighbors to voice any concerns they have, while clinical specialists and supervisors will be on hand at the facility.

Residents of the home will be among the community during the day for shopping and recreation, all of which Kaufman said will be supervised.
CB 10 Chairperson Betty Braton said there are currently 15 similar facilities in the area, and that there has never been a major problem.

“This board has numerous facilities of this nature within our board area,” she said. “All of our other facilities have not impacted negatively upon the community. These are people who would be living in our communities if they didn’t have the needs that require additional assistance.”

Kaufman said the community was doing a good service by allowing his firm to come in.

“It’s really something you can be proud of,” he said. “We’re all going to be proud to be a part of your community.”

 

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