Tag Archives: Community Board 10

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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Six months after Sandy, Charles Park gets clean-up


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File phoot

Frank M. Charles Memorial Park is getting spruced up.

With Sandy debris lingering nearly six months after the storm, Councilmember Eric Ulrich has partnered with the Doe Fund to help clean up the community park, which is run under the auspices of by Gateway National Recreation Area.

Nine “men in blue” from the Doe Fund, which finds work for homeless men and women, will help remove debris in what is considered a neighborhood park, although it’s under the National Park Service (NPS) umbrella.

Ulrich said he reached out to George McDonald, president and founder of the Doe Fund, after coverage of the park’s worsened condition following the storm.

“This was a reaction to the published newspaper reports about the terrible conditions in Charles Park,” Ulrich said.

The councilmember said further pressure had to be put on NPS to secure that Charles Park and other parts of Gateway get the same attention that parks across the country do.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Ulrich said of the delayed clean up, adding it should not have taken a storm like Sandy to bring the park’s conditions to the public eye. “The federal government has to live up to their obligation.”

McDonald, who partnered with Ulrich to bring workers to Broad Channel after the storm, said the program won’t only clean up the park, but give the crew a second chance.

“For the past 25 years, New Yorkers have been so generous to The Doe Fund and to the ‘men in blue’—helping their fellow New Yorkers to re-establish their careers and become fathers to their children,” McDonald said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to give back. I thank Councilmember Ulrich for thinking of us.”

Community Board 10 recently voiced opposition to a proposal from Gateway and NYC Parks Department that listed Charles Park as a possible site for concession stands, bike terminals or kayak launching bays. Board members first want the park to be cleaned up, and get more outreach from Gateway, before anything else comes in.

“It’s my understanding that Doe fund is volunteering labor to do it, which is certainly commendable,” said board chair Elizabeth Braton. “However, it does not remove the obligation of the Parks Service to provide continuous, ongoing maintenance at the facilities they are responsible for.”

 

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Community: Clean up park before allowing new development


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

Howard Beach residents just want their park cleaned up.

Before plans Frank M. Charles Memorial Park are made, Community Board 10 wants the joint effort between the NYC Parks Department and Gateway National Recreation Area to get more local input.

Board members on Thursday, April 4 unanimously voted on a resolution to ask the coalition to remove Charles Park from consideration in the development of Jamaica Bay until further measures are taken.

“That park is in deplorable condition. It has been in deplorable condition for years,” Board chair Elizabeth Braton told a Parks representative. “When the City of New York entered in this agreement where the Parks Department would be allowed to go into Gateway and do some things, it was not the expectation of the local community that the first thing the Parks Department would do is engage in a revenue-making operation there.”

Parks and Gateway, which is an arm of the National Park Service, formed an agreement last summer to help drive more tourism to Jamaica Bay. Requests for Proposals (RFPs) were released last month for developers to create bike terminals, kayak launching areas or food concession stands.

The goal is to have these stands open by this Memorial Day weekend, with Jacob Riis Park in Rockaway as another option for Queens, according to the Parks Department.

But residents want Charles Park, notoriously in poor shape, to be cleaned up before any other sort of new development comes in. Others were concerned this would put a revenue-driving source in a park and disrupt the neighborhood.

While representatives from Gateway didn’t speak at the April meeting, Lauren Standke, a project manager for NYC Parks, spoke to the Board on what the project entails. She said it was not a goal to make money off these stands, but rather, bring more people to south Queens.

Any developer who comes into Gateway would also have to maintain the 50 feet of parkland around the site, Standke said.

“We really wanted to release these Requests for Proposals so that we could get these concessions in place by the summer season,” Standke said in regard to the lack of community input on the RFPs. “I think that with the release of these Requests for Proposals the idea is really to shift the focus to these parks that people really haven’t visited before.”

 

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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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