Tag Archives: Community Board 2

DSNY expanding organics pilot program to southeast Queens

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Five southeast Queens neighborhoods will be included in the Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) latest expansion of the NYC Organics voluntary curbside food and yard waste recycling program this fall.

Ozone Park south of 103rd Avenue and the eastern portion of Lindenwood will begin the week of Oct. 5; residents of South Ozone Park will see their organic waste collection starting the week of Oct. 12; and the collection for Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach will start the week of Nov. 2.

“We are in the process of expanding our organics program,” said Iggy Terranova, DSNY representative, at a Community Board 2 meeting last week. “Queens [District] 10 will be the next one on the market for Queens. We’re going to see that happening … hopefully it moves really well there because we want to use that as our basis on getting it out to the rest of Queens and to the rest of the city. Brooklyn [District] 6 is also getting it, so we’re pushing it as far as we can to try and make it happen for the entire city.”

The organic waste program allows items such as food scraps including fruits, vegetables, egg shells, pasta, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, baked goods, meat and bones, flowers and houseplants, and food-soiled paper such as paper towels, napkins and paper plates to be properly recycled.

“Organic materials make up about a third of our trash,” said Kathryn Garcia, sanitation commissioner. “When you [recycle] your food and yard waste, you decrease the amount of garbage going to landfills and help create a greener and healthier New York City.”

The collected waste materials are managed locally and regionally. Some organic waste is turned into compost, and used locally by greening groups, such as urban farmers, community gardeners and street tree stewards to rebuild the city’s soil.

All single-family homes and buildings with nine or fewer residential units will automatically be enrolled into the voluntary program. Buildings with 10 or more residential units may apply online to participate.

With the organics program continuing to expand into more neighborhoods, Terranova highlighted the DSNY’s need to be prepared to properly pick up the waste.

“We have been thinking about it, logistic-wise, how are we going to pick it up. We just can’t say we are going to start organics in your neighborhood and not have the trucks to come pick it up,” Terranova said. “We have to make sure we have the proper trucks … so look forward to that happening very soon.”

The DSNY previously brought the organics collection program to Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village.

For more information, visit the DSNY’s website.


Sunnyside street co-named after beloved resident who put neighborhood ‘on the map’

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office

Sunnyside came together this weekend to honor the life of a man who many say helped make the neighborhood what it is today.

Local elected officials, community leaders and residents gathered on Saturday to celebrate the life of Luke Adams – a community activist and business owner who passed away last November at age 76 – by co-naming 46th Street in his honor.

The street was chosen because it is where Adams owned a small business and also where he advocated for the Sunnyside Arch to be built.

“It is important that we never forget the life of Luke Adams,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “His work helped put Sunnyside on the map and has left a lasting impression that will forever be felt in our community. Luke loved Sunnyside and was a neighborhood treasure for decades. By ceremoniously co-naming 46th Street in his honor we help ensure future generations of Sunnysiders remember his legacy and all the great work he did for the neighborhood.”

Adams, who was involved in community work for over 40 years, was the first to receive the Sunnysider of the Year award, which was later named after him.

Photo by Steven Harris

Along with working as a reporter and photographer for the Woodside Herald for many years, Adams was also instrumental in the Sunnyside Woodside Lions Club and the nonprofit group Sunnyside Artists Inc., and was the former president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.

“Luke Adams was an outstanding Sunnyside icon who dedicated his life to making his neighborhood a better place, and he is deeply missed,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “Luke helped to mold Sunnyside into the vibrant, wonderful community it is today. He was a good and honest man who will always hold a special place in Sunnyside.”

Among his work for the community, Adams was behind creating the first Sunnyside website in 1991 and has been referred to as the “best promoter in Queens,” because of his various campaigns to increase tourism to the borough he called home.

“The beautiful and diverse fabric of Sunnyside has been woven by a number of wonderful, talented, and committed individuals over the years,” said Pat O’Brien, chair of Community Board 2. “Our friend, Luke Adams, may stand tallest among them, and has left an example in his vision for its growth and success that we will all aspire to continue, and advance, for generations to come.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer joined others in the Sunnyside community to remember and honor the life of Luke Adams.


$100M transformation to turn Queens Boulevard into ‘Boulevard of Life’ begins

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

For Lizi Rahman and all other family members who have lost loved ones on Queens Boulevard, their dream of putting an end to the “Boulevard of Death” is finally starting to become reality.

Rahman — whose 22-year-old son Asif was fatally struck while riding his bicycle home in 2008 — joined Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives and local elected officials and community leaders on Thursday morning in Woodside to announce the beginning of the $100 million redesign of the busy thoroughfare which has claimed 185 lives since 1990.

“I decided to do everything in my power to get a bike lane on Queens Boulevard so that bicyclists would feel safe and no mother would go through this pain of losing a child,” Rahman said. “There were times when I was discouraged. I almost gave up but then I saw light at the end of the tunnel when Mayor de Blasio was elected. Now my dream is not a dream anymore; it became a reality.”

The first phase of the redesign project, which was unanimously approved by Community Board 2 last month, will focus on the 1.3-mile section of Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street, an area which saw six deaths, 36 severe injuries and 591 more hurt in traffic accidents between 2009 and 2013.

“Here is a lesson if ever there was one, on the fact that we had to change things here on Queens Boulevard. We were losing too many good people, and we could avoid those losses. And finally, the actions are being taken to save lives here on Queens Boulevard that should’ve happened long ago,” de Blasio said on Thursday.

Lizi Rahman lost her son in 2008 after he was fatally struck by a truck on Queens Boulevard while riding his bicycle home.

Lizi Rahman lost her son in 2008 after he was fatally struck by a truck on Queens Boulevard while riding his bicycle home.

The redesign of the thoroughfare is expected to decrease drivers from switching repeatedly between the main line and service road. The overall plan will be to get rid of the “highway-like design features” which encourage drivers to speed.

The improvements on the stretch, which will be installed through October, include safer crossings installed along the corridor; pedestrian islands and new mid-block crossings constructed to give pedestrians more time to cross; and the addition of high-visibility crosswalks and new signals.

“We have an obligation to make sure that not one more person loses their life on this boulevard,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “We will transform Queens Boulevard into that ‘Boulevard of Life.’ We will make it safer for everyone, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, all living in harmony and in safety.”

The DOT will also add protected bike lanes with buffers and new pedestrian space along the median next to the service lane in both directions. A raised, concrete bicycle path will be constructed under the overpass on the eastbound service road from 67th to 69th streets.

The project will also include pedestrian ramps being upgraded to be ADA-complaint improving accessibility to those with disabilities, and service roads will be reduced to one moving lane in each direction.

The DOT plans to soon begin the phase of the redesign of Queens Boulevard from 73rd Street to Eliot Avenue, and after from Eliot Avenue to Jamaica Avenue.

“So for all the people who depend on this crucial road, life will change for the better. And we’re going to use every tool we have to continue that work — not just on Queens Boulevard, but all over the city,” de Blasio said.


CB 2 unanimously approves Queens Boulevard safety improvements

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Department of Transportation

Queens Boulevard is now one step closer to going from the “Boulevard of Death” to the “Boulevard of Life.”

Community Board 2 (CB 2) unanimously voted Thursday night to approve the Department of Transportation’s proposed safety improvements and redesign of a 1.3-mile portion of Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street.

The DOT said it decided to focus on this section first because, according to statistics, there have been six fatalities since 2009 in that particular area.

“Community Board 2’s unanimous vote tonight is a big step toward turning Queens Boulevard into the Boulevard of Life,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg in a statement after the meeting. “This investment made by the de Blasio Administration will make the boulevard safer, greener and better for all users. I would like to thank the community for its support and local leaders, such as Councilman [Jimmy] Van Bramer, for their leadership.”

A preliminary plan for the strip was released in March. The proposal presented by DOT representatives during the June 4 meeting was based on community input gathered during safety workshops earlier this year and also a meeting held with CB 2’s Transportation Committee two days prior to last night’s vote.


Some of the features of the first redesign segment, expected to be implemented in August, include safer crossings, increased pedestrian space and improved intersections. The plan also looks to calm the traffic on service roads and try to reduce the number of times drivers move between the main line and service roads.

Goals for the redesign include keeping the main line moving, reducing constant lane change, completing crosswalks and connecting neighborhoods, and eliminating highway-like design features.

Unique redesigns include a protected bike lane integrated into a widened service road median, with new pedestrian space and median-to-median crossings.

As part of their decision, CB 2 members asked the DOT to keep an ongoing dialogue with the community and address issues such as the loss of parking spaces and some of the turn lanes off the center median of the thoroughfare.


(THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano)

Residents at the meeting voiced their support for the proposal and praised DOT for the proposed safety improvements.

“What I’m really excited about the proposal today is that it kind of paints a future and gives an idea of what it would be like to have a road safe enough to bicycle on and it makes me excited to get my bicycle out and actually ride it,” said Patrick Rhea, a resident who walks and drives on Queens Boulevard.

The DOT plans to hold more public workshops during the fall and winter for the future phases of the initiative, from 73rd Street to Eliot Avenue and from Eliot Avenue to Union Turnpike.


First phase of $100M Queens Boulevard redesign to be implemented by August

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of the Department of Transportation

The voices of a concerned community have been heard, and by August, the first segment of the redesign of what is known as the “Boulevard of Death” is expected to be implemented to make it safer.

The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Tuesday that it would be releasing a detailed preliminary plan to redesign a 1.3-mile portion of Queens Boulevard. The plan is based on community input gathered during a safety workshop held on Jan. 22 in Woodside.

This project, which will be reviewed by Community Board 2 and is expected to be implemented in August, launches the start of the DOT’s $100 million Green Streets initiative, which will cover all seven miles of Queens Boulevard.

The agency plans to hold more public workshops during the fall and winter for the future phases of the initiative, from 73rd Street to Eliot Avenue and from Eliot Avenue to Union Turnpike.

“After decades of crashes, many of them fatal, this corridor has been reimagined and will be redesigned to become a safer, greener and more attractive corridor for residents and businesses, suitable to traverse through the World’s Borough,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

The first phase of the redesign, which includes the installation of a protected bike lane, covers the 1.3-mile stretch of the thoroughfare between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street.

The agency previously said it decided to focus on this section first because statistics showed there have been six fatalities since 2009 in that particular area.

Some of the features of the first redesign segment include safer crossings, increased pedestrian space and improved intersections. The preliminary plan also looks to calm the traffic on service roads and try to reduce the number of times drivers move between the main line and service roads.

Unique redesigns include a protected bike lane integrated into a widened service road median, with new pedestrian space and median-to-median crossings that “allow for a linear park-like experience,” according to the DOT.

“This work represented a major advancement in the efforts to achieve Vision Zero throughout our city,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “Thanks to the work of the DOT, we are seeing significant improvements in traffic safety in western Queens, and we look forward to seeing Queens Boulevard safety improvements thanks to this $100 million capital investment.”


7 line is ‘endless nightmare’ for western Queens community

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The western Queens community is demanding that the MTA make drastic changes in hopes of soon waking up from the “endless nightmare” that the 7 train has become.

Local elected officials, community leaders and residents gathered Wednesday morning underneath the elevated 7 train at the 40th Street station in Sunnyside to rally against the MTA and the deteriorating service of the subway line.

Along with ongoing weekend disruptions, in the past months the 7 line has seen trains breaking down, constant signal malfunctions and overcrowded platforms.

“We as a community are trapped in a bad dream that never seems to end, but worse than not ending, it has gotten much worse,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “This bad dream has turned into an endless nightmare, one that we cannot wake up from.”

During the rally, which comes a little over a week before the MTA base fare increases to $2.75 a ride, commuters shared their stories of riding the subway line and its impact on their daily lives.

“I am just very concerned. I understand that it must not be an easy job for the MTA, but on the other hand we need to get to work,” said Charlotte Neuhaus, a lifelong Sunnyside resident who uses the 7 line almost every day. “I hope that [the MTA] makes changes. They seem to come in, make some changes, but they aren’t dealing with the core problem. The fundamental problem is not being solved.”

Neuhaus said she has dealt with numerous train delays, signal problems, and long waiting periods.

Fellow subway rider Linda Burns said that for the 10 years she has lived in Sunnyside, almost every year has been met with deteriorating service on the 7 line. Some days instead of waiting for the train she decides to take a bus and walk to her job in Manhattan.

“[The MTA] keeps saying they are making these improvements but in fact the service has gotten worse,” Burns said. “It doesn’t really feel like they’re being honest with us.”

Van Bramer called the subway service problems “painful” not only for riders but also local businesses and communities.

“My question to the MTA, if you are spending billions and if you are forcing us to have no train service on the weekend for the purpose on improving 7 train service reliability, why is it that in the past four months service has sunk to lows we’ve never seen before?” Van Bramer said. “It has been outrageous, it is potentially dangerous, [and] the level of service is disgraceful. Why is it getting worse and not better?”

At the rally, riders and local leaders asked the MTA to be more transparent in their decisions and to open communication with the communities being affected by the 7 line subway disruptions and service issues.

“Unacceptable just isn’t the word with what is going on with the delays, overcrowding and maintenance issues,” said Patrick O’Brien, chair of Community Board 2. “The MTA might call it the 7 line but for those of us who live here, it’s the lifeline that gets you back and forth to work, kids to school, doctor’s appointments, all the activities of daily life that are essential to the quality of life.”


Hybrid batteries stolen from 12 cars in 108th Precinct

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Shoreline

In the past few months, car thieves have been walking away with more than just personal items when breaking into the trunks of some hybrid vehicles in western Queens.

According to the 108th Precinct, which covers Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, since November expensive hybrid batteries have been stolen out of the trunks of 12 hybrid Toyota Camrys in the area. The majority have been taken from Long Island City.

All of the vehicles, which can run on electrical power as well as a gasoline engine, have been taxis and include 10 yellow cabs and two livery vehicles.

The batteries cost from $2,000 to $3,000. They also have no serial numbers, making them untraceable, according to Debra Markell Kleinert, district manager of Community Board 2.

“The 108th is being proactive and working with the community to try to resolve this issue,” Markell Kleinert said.

The incidents are currently under investigation by the Grand Larceny Squad and 108th Precinct’s Detective Squad.


Anthony Mazzarella, owner of The Waterfront Crabhouse in LIC, dies

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The owner of Long Island City’s Waterfront Crabhouse, Anthony Mazzarella, a boxing enthusiast and an avid fundraiser for people with cancer, died on Jan. 24. He was 77.

Mazzarella opened the eatery, located at 2-03 Borden Ave., almost 40 years ago. It is known for its seafood dishes and walls decorated with boxing memorabilia.

The LIC restaurant, housed in a building dating back to the 1800s, has made it through two disasters, each causing it to be closed for months. The first was a fire in 2009 and just two years ago the eatery was flooded by several feet of water after Hurricane Sandy hit the city.

Mazzarella was also a member of the New York State Boxing Commission and the NY State Wine and Grape Foundation. He served as a member of the American Cancer Society and Queens Division, and he founded the Patty Fund for Childhood Cancer.

He started an annual block party on the Fourth of July that raised thousands of dollars for cancer patients. Other events were held at the Crab House, all for the benefit of the American Cancer Society. Every year he would also host a Christmas party for kids with cancer.

“He was a terrific man who really cared about his community and his neighborhood,” said Joseph Conley, former chairman of Community Board 2. “His contributions were special, as he was instrumental in [Patty Fund for Childhood Cancer], just to name a few. He will be greatly missed.”

Mazzarella was honored with the American Cancer Society’s St. George Medal, the highest and most prestigious award for outstanding service and leadership in the fight against cancer.

Also, as a former boxer, Mazzarella started the Golden Mittens to use physical fitness as a way to keep children away from drugs.

He is survived by his wife, Deanne, three children, two grandchildren and his siblings.

Services will be held on Jan. 29 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. at the Pizzi Funeral House, located at 120 Paris Ave. in Northvale, N.J. A mass is scheduled for Jan. 30 at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church at 120 Kings Highway in Tappan, in Rockland County.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to the United Hospice of Rockland at 11 Stokum Lane, New City, NY 10956.


Talk of Sunnyside Yards mega development chugging along  

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jim Henderson/ Wikipedia Commons

Proposals to redevelop the massive Sunnyside Yards are building up steam after decades of discussion as more key players in the rail yard’s future are weighing in with some specific ideas for what can be built there.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan was the latest to express her ideas about what to do with the massive 160-acre rail yard.

Nolan said upgrading the existing community must be considered first when developing the rail yard, referring to an ambitious plan by former Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff and SHoP Architects to build a massive convention center and housing complex over the site.

Developing the Sunnyside Yards has historically been a touchy subject — one that began heating up recently after then Community Board 2 Chair Joseph Conley introduced the idea to conduct a publicly-funded feasibility study to figure out what could be done with the yards, which was first reported by The Courier in October.

Last month Doctoroff penned an editorial in the New York Times about his plan, which includes moving the 1.8-million-square-foot Jacob Javits Convention Center over the rail yards and expanding it to 3.1 million square feet, while also creating 14,000 new housing units — 50 percent of which would be set aside as affordable —  and adding an office and retail complex and public green spaces.

Rendering courtesy of SHoP Architects 

Rendering courtesy of SHoP Architects

But Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has not stood behind the plan, and instead voiced concern for current residents.

“What we need is more green space. We need a lot more schools, we need more [school] buildings, already based on the number of kids we have today, and not including any new kids,” Van Bramer said. “We need better transportation options — the 7 train is already over capacity. And yes we need affordable housing and we are very supportive of more affordable housing being built, but it can’t come at the expense of the quality of life that the people experience in the neighborhood today.”

Many of his constituents have opposed development of the yards. A petition against a development project at the site started by locals following the Doctoroff editorial has garnered about 250 signatures.

But industry experts seem to think not using the land would be a waste.

“I think that Sunnyside Yards represents an enormous opportunity for Queens and for the city and one that is certainly worth exploring more closely,” said former city Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinsky, who is now a vice president at RXR Realty. “The big challenge will be to figure out how to get the right mix of uses. It’s too big an opportunity to ignore.”

Although he has not shown support for it, Van Bramer said if the project is to move further  a study must first be done on the proposed usage of the land.

“I think that if there is a next step the city might want to take a look at some feasibility issues and see what’s possible,” Van Bramer said. “I’m not sure anything needs to be done quite frankly.”


Bill introduced to City Council calling for term limits for community boards

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

A new bill that was set to be introduced in the City Council Wednesday calls for putting term limits on community board members appointed in mid-2016 or later.

Councilman Daniel Dromm, who is one of the initial sponsors of the bill, was set to introduce legislation in the Council’s Government Operations Committee that would establish term limits for community board members.

Currently under law there is no limit to the number of consecutive two-year terms board members could either be appointed to or serve.

If the new bill were to pass, those appointed for a first term starting April 1, 2016, or after would only be allowed to serve twelve years, or six consecutive terms.

Under the proposed bill, a board member such as former Community Board 2 chair Joseph Conley would not have been able to serve the almost three decades he had under his belt.

Dromm told the Gotham Gazette that just how communities change, he believes community boards should, too. Although he “applauds” and thanks those who serve 30 or 40 years on a board, he added that he thinks they “need to move things around.”

Community boards have up to 50 voting members. Votes by community boards are non-binding, but they often carry influence with elected officials.


Sunnyside school to be renamed after former councilman, CB 2 chair

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A new Sunnyside school, which opened its doors this September, will be named after a man who officials and residents call a “great advocate” of the western Queens community.

P.S. 313, located at 45-45 42nd St., will be renamed this Friday as the Walter McCaffrey Campus in honor of a former councilman, the late Walter McCaffrey, who represented the 26th District from 1985 to 2001.

According to Joseph Conley, who recently stepped down as Community Board 2 (CB 2) chair, McCaffrey had affection for Sunnyside and wanted to see the site, which once was home to the Sunnyside Jewish Center, serve as a location for a school.

“Walter was such a dedicated New Yorker and hard worker, and this is celebrating his legacy,” Conley said about the decision to dedicate the school in memory of McCaffrey.

The 75,000-square-foot school has a capacity to serve more than 430 students from prekindergarten to fifth grade. The facility features a gymnatorium, library, 20 classrooms, art and science rooms, and a rooftop play area.

McCaffrey, who died in 2013 at age 64, was born and raised in Woodside. Before being elected to the City Council, he served as chair of CB 2.

While in the City Council, McCaffrey also served as chair of the Zoning and Franchises subcommittee and was on the Land Use, Finance, Public Safety and Transportation committees.

In May, local politicians, community leaders and residents celebrated McCaffrey’s life during a ceremony renaming 61st Street on Woodside Avenue as “Walter McCaffrey Place.”

The school dedication ceremony will take place Friday at P.S. 313 with a concert at 8:30 a.m. and a ribbon cutting afterward.


New 108th Precinct commanding officer wants to ‘harden’ community against crimes

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The new top cop at the 108th Precinct wants to enlist the public in the battle against crime as he steps into a new job he said he feels lucky to have landed.

Captain John Travaglia was named commanding officer of the precinct, covering Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth, on Nov. 17, replacing Captain Brian Hennessy, who was assigned commanding officer of the 115th Precinct.

“We don’t choose where we work in the NYPD, they tell us where we work and my lottery numbers came out. I hit the lottery to be in Long Island City,” Travaglia said. “[Hennessy] left me running with a well-oiled machine.”

Just a few weeks into his new assignment, Travaglia was able to present good news during the Dec. 4 Community Board 2 monthly meeting, when he reported that crime in the precinct had dropped significantly over the previous 28 days.

Robberies were down 8 percent, felony assaults down 9 percent, burglaries down 6 percent, grand larceny down 15 percent, and reports of stolen cars were down 50 percent, according to Travaglia.

In his new position, the 22-year NYPD veteran plans to continue what Hennessy accomplished at the precinct, such as Community Friday, which involves taking time to focus especially hard on quality-of-life issues in the precinct.

Using his experience from a previous assignment at NYPD Highway Patrol, Travaglia also said he wants to do more traffic enforcement, since an important issue in the precinct includes high-volume thoroughfares that carry thousands of commuters to and from work. He plans to emphasize enforcement of Vison Zero — a program championed by Mayor de Blasio to reduce traffic deaths — and also create a enhanced effort to crack down on drunken driving.

“There is nothing more important than getting a drunk driver off the road. I can equate it to taking a loaded illegal firearm off the street,” Travaglia said. “If we can somehow prevent a person from being injured, if not killed, that’s just as good as saving someone from a violent demise due to a crime.”

In regards to crime in the neighborhoods, Travaglia said he sees the same types of crimes that he did in his previous posts at the 114th and 104th precincts, such as property-based burglaries, car theft, and grand larceny.

In order to keep the number of such crimes down, Travaglia said he would like to educate residents on how they can help “harden the target” and lessen their chances of becoming crime victims. For example, residents making sure their windows and doors are tightly locked, making sure valuables aren’t left in cars and being more vigilant of their personal property and information.

“It’s not at all to make people feel like the police aren’t here to prevent this. We are here, [but] we cannot be everywhere. I wish we could stop all the bad people from doing this, but we cannot be everywhere,” Travaglia said. “It really is the community being the eyes and ears for the police department. We need people to call. If something looks out of place, we need to know about it.”

Travaglia said he wants to hear from the community, and that includes concerns about problems.

“I welcome complaints, I welcome compliments. I want people to attend community meetings,” he said. “We need to know what the problems are. If someone sees a problem, we need it to be reported. We cannot work a solution if we don’t know what the problem is.”

The next 108th Community Council Meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2015, at Sunnyside Community Services.


Community expresses mixed feelings on city-commissioned sculpture in LIC

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But for one community in Long Island City, a bright pink statue that would stand more than 8 feet tall just might not fit their vision of beauty.

At the recent Community Board 2 meeting, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs presented the newest project for the Percent for Art program that is being commissioned for Jackson Avenue and 43rd Avenue.

Since 1982, the city’s Percent for Art law has required that one percent of the budget for eligible city-funded construction projects be spent on public artwork.

For this commission, a panel convened by the agency selected Brooklyn-artist Ohad Meromi and at the Dec. 4 board meeting, the community got a preview of what is being proposed for the Long Island City site.

Meromi’s proposed sculpture is an 8.5-foot-tall, bright pink piece called “The Sunbather” which is shaped as a human figure. About $515,000 of city tax dollars will go toward the construction of the piece, made of bronze.

Although Meromi said he is “excited for the opportunity” to sculpt the piece, community board members and residents at the meeting brought up issues such as the community at large not having had the opportunity to give their input on the sculpture earlier and also the color just being a little too much.

“I personally do like the art,” said Moitri Chowdhury Savard, a community board member. “But I think the bright pink color and the size of it has been brought up by many residents of the community as too much for the area. I think it might be a little too much for a lot of the residents there.”

Resident Christian Amez, also a member of the organization Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, said he also wished the community could have been more well-represented earlier in the process. They also would have liked it if a local artist could have been chosen.

According to Sarah Reisman, director for Percent for Art, the agency presented a rough draft of a rendering to the community board’s land use committee first, and members of the board were invited.

Reisman also added that about 40 artists, including local Long Island City artists, were presented to a panel that later picked finalists. After finalists presented proposals, Meromi, who has presented pieces at the SculptureCenter and MoMA PS1, was chosen.

The sculpture’s size and color are still not finalized, but a permanent piece by Meromi is expected to be located at the site.

“I really thought the site could use color,” Meromi said about the color selection of the sculpture. “I think pink is bold and the site could use something bold.”

Now the agency will take the comments from residents and the community board comments and go back to the renderings of the sculpture. Then, the agency will present a conceptual design to the public design commission at City Hall.

“We want to know what you think, take it to consideration and take it to the design commission,” Reisman said. “We’re here to listen.”


Crime down in the 108th Precinct

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

With just three weeks under his belt as the new commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, Captain John Travaglia had some good news to share with the community.

At Community Board 2’s monthly meeting on Thursday night, along with introducing himself to board members and the audience, Travaglia said they have seen a decrease in crime in the precinct covering Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth.

In the last 28 days, robberies have been down 8 percent, felony assaults 9 percent, burglaries 6 percent, grand larceny 15 percent, and stolen cars have been down 50 percent, according to Travaglia.

“We’re heading in the right direction. I can’t make promises that it will always stay that way but I hope it does. I hope I can keep up the good work,” Travaglia said at the meeting. “I credit a lot of this reduction to Brian Hennessy and the policies he had in place, and I look forward to continuing those efforts.”

Travaglia replaced Captain Brian Hennessy, who on Nov. 6 became the commanding officer of the 115th Precinct. Before becoming the new top dog at the 108th Precinct, Travaglia was at the 114th Precinct, and before that at the 104th Precinct.

“One of the best holiday Christmas presents I ever got was being assigned to the 108th Precinct,” Travaglia said. “I took over the 108th Precinct from Captain Hennessy. He did a wonderful job. He left me with a well-oiled machine. Our men and women are working very hard and very efficiently, and I just hope I can continue it. It’s pretty big footsteps to follow in.”


CB 2 names new chair, executive board members

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

With tears in his eyes, Joseph Conley said goodbye to the position he has held for close to three decades as he handed over the reins at Community Board 2 on Thursday night.

Conley officially announced at the December Community Board 2 monthly meeting that he would be stepping down as chair of the board. He gave the news to board members two days before the meeting via a letter.

“It’s been a great honor for me, a great privilege to be a voice of the community board and in some cases the face of the community board,” Conley said during the meeting. “There is no other reason to say other than it’s time.”

Patrick O’Brien, who previously held the position of second vice chair and has been a member of the board for 13 years, was voted as the new chair of Community Board 2.

Although he is stepping down from his position as chair of the board, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and a part of Maspeth, Conley will finish his term as a board member, which ends in April.

“I have made lifelong friends in this room, people that I have shared my life, my family and you will remain all my friends,” Conley said while tearing up. The members of the board and audience cheered and gave him a standing ovation.

Conley said he joined the board because of the issue of the “squeegee men,” who would attempt to clean car windows on the side of the road at Queens Plaza. Since then he said he has seen each community flourish in its own unique way.

When thinking of his proudest moment of being part of the board, he said it had to be the community’s input for the new Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City and helping to come up with affordable housing in that area.

“It’s tough, it’s really tough only from the sense of the inspiration you get every day from people, trying to help people, making a difference — so it’s very hard,” Conley said. “I’m very happy for Pat. He will be a dynamic leader. He’s very thoughtful, and he has a good grasp of the issues in the community, so he will do a great job.”

Along with voting for a new chair, the executive board members decided to also put forth a new “slate” and vote on a new first and second vice chairman, secretary and treasurer. The decision was initially met with opposition from some board members, who said they felt it was too soon to be asked to vote, especially with only knowing two days before that Conley would be leaving.

However, after going back and forth, the members voted and the new executive board was chosen.

“It’s going to take some time to get the lay of the land even having been on the executive board. There are things that the chairman, particularly this chairman, has done that are going to be hard to duplicate, but you find your way and in a couple of months you do your own thing,” O’Brien said.

The new executive board consists of Stephen Cooper continuing as first vice chair, Lisa Deller going from secretary to second vice chair, Diane Ballek staying as treasurer, and Denise Keehan Smith becoming the new secretary.

O’Brien, who is a lifelong Long Island City resident, said he plans to continue the focus on key community issues, such as quality of life, transportation and development.

“We still have all the same issues. We’re going to miss Joe, but we’re not going to stop working towards all of those [issues]. The good news is that he’ll still be around,” O’Brien said. “We have more issues than answers, but that’s why we’ll work on it.”

Community Board 2’s next meeting will be on Jan. 8, 2015.