Tag Archives: Community Board 2

Farmers’ market may return to Hunters Point


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

http://queenscourier.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=106816&action=edit&message=10#

The community has spoken and Hunters Point might be getting its beloved farmers’ market back on weekends.

At a meeting of the Hunters Point Civic Association, residents voiced their opinions on important issues, with many shedding light on their desire to bring back the farmers’ market. After one resident volunteered to lead the issue, Down to Earth Markets was contacted.

“We are very excited to be bringing a farmers’ market back to the neighborhood and happy to be working with Down to Earth Farmers’ Markets,” said Brent O’Leary, president of the Hunters Point Civic Association.

Down to Earth Markets manages 20 farmers’ markets in New York City and Westchester and Rockland Counties and strives to bring “locally crafted products” to the residents of each community.

There had previously been a market on 48th Street on Saturdays, but when the day was shifted to Wednesdays, the change did not go over well with residents and the operation closed down.

“It was an outcry from the residents that they wanted to have it back,” said Frankie Rowland, director of community relations and marketing for Down to Earth Markets. “We want to return the market to 48th Street on Saturdays.” At a recent Community Board 2 meeting in Sunnyside, representatives from Down to Earth Markets, including Rowland, presented their plan to the residents and board members.

“Local is a big aspect of what we do. We want to support local agriculture,” said Rowland. “We want to provide fresh local food to the residents of the area and allow them to have direct interaction with each other.” The farmers’ market would feature locally grown produce, fruits and vegetables in season, and local bread. In addition, there may be vendors selling local honey, olive oil, cheese and eggs.

According to Rowland, the first step was reaching out to Community Board 2 and now they will have a follow-up meeting with the civic association. The meeting will then be followed with the organization pursuing proper permits from the Department of Transportation.

If the farmers’ market is approved, it will be launched in June or July on 48th Street between Vernon Boulevard and 5th Street and will open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until the last Saturday before Thanksgiving.

 

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LIC residents blame parking problems on Manhattanites


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Long Island City dwellers have circled the block for the last time.

Residents of the rapidly-developing district, sick of searching for scarce parking, blame Manhattanites for using the neighborhood with lax street-side laws as their personal parking lot.

“It’s a convenient place for those living or working in Manhattan to leave their cars for the day or weeks,” said Peter Johnson, a Long Island City resident who claimed the problem has persisted for years.

One Manhattanite who works for Citicorp left her car parked at the edge of Johnson’s house for several months. She told him she occasionally stopped by during her lunch break just to turn the car on to recharge the battery.

“[She had] no qualms about taking the parking that should be for residents,” said Johnson.

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), street storage of vehicles is prohibited. On streets that are without regulations for alternate-side parking, including residential neighborhoods, cars are not allowed to remain in the same spot for seven consecutive days.

Johnson suggested resident parking stickers as a possible fix to the parking problem. The DOT said residential permits are not under consideration as the agency does not have the authority or funding to implement a system.

“We do know that people are leaving their cars on the streets for long period of time,” said Community Board 2 Chair Joe Conley.

In May of 2012, board members conducted an impromptu experiment, scrawling dates and times on cars in dust along 47th Avenue and 48th Avenue to track their movement. Cars didn’t move for several weeks.

As part of a separate cleanliness initiative, Community Board 2 reached out to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) in hopes of bringing street cleaning to the neighborhood. Conley believes the parking regulations necessary for street cleaning will alleviate some traffic tension.

“Throughout the rest of the district we have alternate side parking so cars have to move,” said Conley. “In Hunters Point we don’t have restrictions so cars can stay there forever.”

Conley also believes the area’s booming population and residential upswing has attributed to parking woes. The formerly industrial neighborhood, which mainly saw circulation increase during week days, is now subject to seven straight days of traffic. Conley added that while LIC has always suffered from a serious parking shortage, turnover of parking is essential to residents and businesses in the neighborhood.

 

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Dangerous Sunnyside intersection prompts DOT study


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

A transit advocacy group is moving to make changes to a hazardous Sunnyside intersection.

Representatives from the Queens Committee of Transportation Alternatives say the juncture of Borden Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue, running above the Long Island Expressway, is perilous for pedestrians and cyclists due to unclear markings and poorly-timed traffic signals.

“Frankly, it’s an absolute nightmare,” said Transportation Alternatives member Steve Scofield, who rides his bike through the intersection frequently. “There really is no safe way for a pedestrian or cyclist to get through the intersection safely.”

Many northbound cyclists choose to navigate the intersection illegally to optimize safety, crossing Greenpoint Avenue and riding against traffic on the southbound side. Scofield said it’s safer for bike rides to move in the opposite direction rather than be at the mercy of drivers with limited visibility. Nearly half of cyclists who cross the intersection use this method.

According to Streetsblog.com, a cyclist was struck and killed by a livery cab at the intersection in April 2012.

The driver of the cab was not charged with any crime. According to CrashStat.org, since 1998 there have been four accidents at the crossing, all of which resulted in injuries.

In order to create a safer intersection, Scofield wants to implement protected left signals and shared lanes for bikes and cars; convert Hunters Point Boulevard into a westbound one-way street; and add more lights for cyclists and pedestrians.

In August 2012, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer sent a letter to then Queens DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy, alerting her to the traffic calming measures needed at this intersection.

“This daunting intersection has had a history of accidents in recent years due to a lack of the appropriate traffic light timing and issues with speed control,” said Van Bramer. “These hazards have put the lives of pedestrians, motorists and cyclists in danger and action must be taken before another life is lost. ”

According to a spokesperson from the Department of Transportation (DOT), the agency will conduct a study on the intersection based on Community Board 2’s recommendations.

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Bike Share Comes to L.I.C.


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Mayor Michael Bloomberg

The city recently opted to “share” its bikes with the borough.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer announced on May 11 that “Citi Bike,” New York’s bicycle share program, will add 10 stations in Long Island City – building upon the locations currently planned in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

“Citi Bike,” which is the nation’s largest public bike share system with 600 docking stations and 10,000 bikes, will provide a new, eco-friendly mode of transportation for residents. The program – sponsored by Citi – will launch in July of 2012 and will be operated by Alta Bicycle Share, which will split any profits with the city.

“[This] is a big victory – one that will improve life in L.I.C. in a number of ways,” Van Bramer said. “Cycling is healthy, it’s great exercise and it brings people together in a number of ways. It allows families to explore the neighborhood in ways that maybe they hadn’t before. It’s going to bring a lot of people to the neighborhood. It’s going to bring people to our cultural institutions. It’s going to bring people to our restaurants and small businesses. People will be able to come from all over the city with their bikes and park them in these docking stations and explore what we have to offer, which is a great deal.”

According to Van Bramer, the 10 docking stations have been strategically placed to provide riders access to premier locations in L.I.C., including waterfront parks, the business district and LaGuardia Community College. The councilmember also expressed hope that the bike share program will expand to other parts of Queens in Phase 2 of its launch.

“I expect it to be successful and hope it will be well utilized and future expansions will take it to more and more neighborhoods in Queens, bringing all of the benefits beyond L.I.C.,” he said.

Every bike in the network will be equipped with a bell and both front and rear lights, as well as an inscribed safety message encouraging helmet use and cautioning riders to yield to pedestrians, avoid riding on sidewalks, ride with traffic and obey all traffic lights and signs.

The docking stations are solar-powered and wireless and can accommodate between 15 and 60 bikes. They will be located on sidewalks, curbside road space, plazas and other locations suggested through a community process. A community forum on the bike share will be hosted by Van Bramer, Community Board 2 and the DOT on May 21, allowing residents to learn more about the program.

“I’m extremely proud to release this plan for the Citi Bike network,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “New Yorkers created this plan during the past six months, contributing time and expertise in workshops, on-line and in dozens of meetings to discuss and plan the city’s newest transportation system.”

Community Board 2 approves liquor licenses


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Michael Pantelidis

Casa Enrique and the M. Wells Dinette inside MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center were both recently approved for liquor licenses by Community Board (CB) 2.

The proprietors of the Long Island City establishments made presentations to the board members and community residents during an April 24 meeting, requesting the right to sell liquor inside their respective restaurants.

Winston Kulok, the owner of Casa Enrique – an authentic Mexican restaurant located at 5-48 49th Avenue – also received permission to serve food in a small garden area in the rear of the eatery until 10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

In an attempt to ease concerns of disorderly conduct, Kulok said he is a “responsible operator” and that his restaurants are “food oriented.” The restaurateur went on to say that he has 20 pages of signatures from residents in support of his application.

M. Wells and MoMA PS1 submitted a joint application to allow for an overlap between the two facilities during catered events or receptions. CB 2 voted to allow the restaurant to sell liquor and remain open until 2 a.m.

Peter Katz, chief operating officer of MoMA PS1, and Sarah Obraitis, owner of M. Wells, said they welcomed the partnership and believe it will be greatly beneficial for L.I.C. Both also emphasized that they are not aiming to cause any trouble with their pairing.

Despite previous incidents of loud noise and disorderly conduct from visitors of the museum, M. Wells and MoMA PS1 received overwhelming support from the residents in attendance – who were excited over the restaurant’s return.

Western Queens provides DOT bike lane input


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and residents of western Queens recently “pedaled” closer to protecting bike riders.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer sponsored the first-ever Queens Bike Forum in Sunnyside on March 2, allowing members of the DOT’s Bike Program Staff to receive recommendations from residents regarding the best ways to develop safe and efficient bike lanes in western Queens. During the forum, which was held at Community Board (CB) 2, cycling enthusiasts from around the 26th District also shared suggestions for ideal bike route locations.

“The goal of this forum was to make sure that the community has input in the DOT’s bike lane implementation process,” said Van Bramer, who often cycles himself. “The roads of New York City are for everyone and we want to make sure that everyone stays safe. In my opinion, a well-planned and well-organized bike lane can do that. One of the best ways to achieve that is by bringing the community and the DOT together to decide which bike lanes are best and where they can be best installed in our neighborhoods.”

According to DOT spokesperson Scott Gastel, the department received a great deal of information from the community, and after reviewing the suggestions, officials will return to CB2 within the next few months to present a report of the findings. The DOT will also ask the community to aid in prioritizing the list of bike route locations, said Gastel.

Many residents are hopeful DOT improvements will allow them to feel safe cycling around their neighborhood.

“There are some bike lanes already, but the paths need to be better laid out. They don’t seem to flow well or be safe enough,” said Thomas Haggerty, a resident of Woodside. “I tend to take my kids bike riding in the park, but if they could make it safer on the streets I would certainly consider that.”