Tag Archives: Community Board 5

DOT proposes changes to dangerous Myrtle Avenue intersection


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Image via Google Maps

Representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOT) offered a plan during the Community Board 5 combined Transportation Services and Public Transportation committees meeting Tuesday night to fix problems at a dangerous Myrtle Avenue intersection.

The Forest Avenue/Myrtle Avenue/George Street intersection was brought to the DOT’s attention because it is located within the Myrtle Avenue priority corridor.

This intersection “is listed among the corridors for which the Department of Transportation will design and implement safety projects as part of the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims at eliminating all traffic-related fatalities,” said Arban Vigni, project manager with the DOT.

The high-traffic area sees an abundance of not only vehicles, but also pedestrians, with high volumes of seniors and students using the crosswalk. Two buses, the Q39 on Forest Avenue and the Q55 on Myrtle Avenue, also pass through the area, adding to congestion.

“Judging from the frequency and severity of crashes that occurred here between 2009 and 2013, the intersection has been designated a high pedestrian crash location,” Vigni said.

During the five-year period, there were 18 crashes, six of them involving pedestrians. Two of those crashes led to severe injuries.

“It’s also worth noting that 50 percent of pedestrians that were involved in crashes were hit while crossing with the signal, whereas the average for Queens is as low as 37 percent,” Vigni said. “This basically shows that turning vehicles do not yield properly at this intersection.”

Vigni pointed out the odd geometry of the location as one reason for the high levels of pedestrian crashes at the intersection. The star-shaped intersection has Myrtle Avenue running east to west, Forest Avenue going north to southeast and George Street going southwest.

The DOT’s proposed changes include adding a concrete curb extension on the south side of the intersection.

“The curb extension would help realign the intersection somewhat and it would shorten the southwest crosswalk by seven feet,” Vigni explained.

This would not interfere with parking on George Street because there is a fire hydrant located on that corner, which restricts vehicles from parking there.

High-visibility crosswalks were already installed on April 15 to increase visibility of pedestrians.

Finally, “peg-a-tracks,” which are yellow dashed lines, will be installed in the center of the intersection to clarify direction of travel for vehicles on Forest Avenue.

The DOT plans to implement these changes in June.

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Evergreen Park renovations celebrated at Glendale groundbreaking


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

City officials and civic leaders celebrated the start of Evergreen Park’s reconstruction during a ceremony Friday morning at the Glendale green space.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley joined Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and others to ceremonially break ground on renovations to the playground on the national observance of Arbor Day.

“It’s really appropriate, because it’s Arbor Day, that we have all of this green coming into this park,” Lewandowski said.

Construction on the park began in early April and is expected to take about one year to complete. The first phase of the park’s reconstruction will include replacing the underused bocce and shuffleboard courts with a garden-inspired playground, spray showers, new shrubs and plantings.

According to Lewandowski, the new playground, themed with the title “Play in the Garden,” will feature new spray showers with “large green misting leaves and directional jets and bubblers, in a field of leaves and vines.”

“It’s going to promote innovative play for toddlers and young children,” Lewandowski said. “This will be a really creative spot where kids can play. The days of the old concrete spray shower are gone. This will be much more interactive for children.”

Crowley allocated $1 million in funding for this first phase of the park’s reconstruction. The councilwoman considers Evergreen Park a “special place” as it’s where she used to play softball while growing up.

“This project is a long time coming,” Crowley said.

Community Board 5 was well represented at the affair in the form of Chairperson Vincent Arcuri, District Manager Gary Giordano, Parks Committee Chair Steven Fiedler, Paul Kerzner and Tom Dowd. Also on hand were Mike Liendo and David Sands, the respective president and vice president of the Liberty Park Home Owners Association, and Barry Grodenchik, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s director of community boards.

Community members, including Sands and Liendo, first approached Crowley back in 2009, shortly after she was elected, regarding refurbishment of the park.

According to Fiedler, a design committee rejected the plan on two occasions before finally granting approval to proceed.

“I’m glad to see this move forward,” he said. “It’s a great design.”

Crowley also announced that an additional $2.4 million in funding for the second phase of improvements was secured in conjunction with Katz and the mayor’s office. These improvements may include refurbishment of the asphalt field, basketball courts and comfort stations.

“I want to make sure everybody stays engaged as we come together to plan the next phase of this project,” Crowley said.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

Principal Ann Marie Scalfano and first-graders from P.S. 68 also attended the groundbreaking ceremony. The children carried handmade signs and banners thanking Crowley for her funding and support of Evergreen Park.

“It’s exciting, because this $1 million allocation will go a long way in making Evergreen Park a better park for the community,” Crowley said. “The park is uniquely named ‘Evergreen’ and it’s important to keep it young and fresh for the young people of the community.”

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Is state balking at Ridgewood Reservoir wetland declaration?


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) appears to be moving away from possible wetland status for the Ridgewood Reservoir, according to the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Parks Committee.

For nearly five years, the board and environmentalists have pressed the DEC to declare the 55-acre site on the Brooklyn/Queens border in Glendale as a wetland. The declaration would recognize the sensitive ecology that formed in the reservoir since it was taken out of the city’s water system decades ago and grant the state authority to regulate its future use.

But CB 5 recently learned that DEC officials weren’t so sure that much of the Ridgewood Reservoir meets the criteria for wetland status.

According to Steve Fiedler, CB 5 Parks Committee chair, the DEC indicated that Basin 3, the westernmost and largest of the three reservoir chambers, did not meet the minimum qualifications for a wetland. In past years, the city planned to clear this basin and transform it into athletic fields and other active park space, but those plans were scrapped due to community opposition and financial constraints.

Basin 2, the center chamber which includes a large natural lake, did not meet acreage requirements under DEC wetland criteria, but Fielder said the agency would likely declare it a wetland due to “extraordinary community concern.”

Fielder added that DEC officials indicated they did not evaluate Basin 1, the smallest and easternmost chamber, because inspectors were unable to enter due to heavy vegetation along the basin walls.

The committee co-chair charged in a phone interview that the DEC failed to properly evaluate the reservoir as a wetland, echoing sentiments in a resolution Board 5 adopted at its April 8 meeting in Middle Village.

“They did no plant evaluation, they did no soil evaluation and they did no testing,” Fiedler said. “They just went in and looked around and found it very dry after a rainstorm. They also went in during the winter when [they] shouldn’t be looking for wetland environments.”

In a letter to DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens, CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano wrote that a preliminary assessment prepared by Round Mountain LLC for the city Parks Department “identifies an important wetland in the south end of the west basin.” Giordano noted that such characteristics were confirmed in a site visit by Round Mountain officials last May.

“It is very important that NYS DEC engage in an in-depth study of plant life at the Ridgewood Reservoir, and that in-depth soil samples be taken, and not limited to the dry season,” Giordano wrote to Martens. “If it is not feasible for NYS DEC to conduct the necessary plant life studies required for wetland determination in the spring and summer, DEC should be able to rely on expert studies that have been performed during the past 15 years related to the Ridgewood Reservoir.”

The DEC did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Bioswale construction to begin later this month in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Environmental Protection

The confines of Community Board 5 are about to get greener.

Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced during the Community Board 5 (CB 5) meeting on Wednesday that the construction of 200 to 250 bioswales is set to begin at the end of the month.

Bioswales are curbside gardens that collect stormwater runoff into large, underground basins through 5 feet of specially engineered soil, comprised of layers of broken stone and sandy soil.

“New York’s infrastructure is hard, it’s very dense,” said Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, director of community affairs for the DEP. “Green infrastructure is, in a sense, peeling back a layer of that hard infrastructure.”

“Part of what we’re doing is making the land spongy again,” he continued. “The goal is to improve water quality…this is one of our tools to do that.”

The bioswales help improve the city’s water quality by reducing the amount of rainwater entering the sewer system, which helps lower combined sewer overflow (CSO).

CSO is a combination of sewage water from homes and businesses and stormwater, which can become too much for the sewer system to handle, especially during times of heavy rainfall. The water then overflows and sends untreated water into the city’s waterways, such as Newtown Creek, which suffers from high levels of pollution.

One single bioswale can manage almost 3,000 gallons of water and if the bioswale becomes overfilled, the water is released into the sewer catch basin as it normally would, just at a lower rate so there is not a rush of water that could overflow the sewer system.

With the installation of the bioswales right around the corner, community issues are a major point of concern for the DEP.

“One of the big questions we get a lot is, ‘Who is going to take care of these?’” Abdul-Matin told the board. “We build it, we’re going to maintain it. It’s not like we’re going to pass the buck onto you.”

The construction and installation of these bioswales and other green infrastructure will help clean the city’s water and reduce flooding, making the neighborhoods they serve better.

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Community Board 5 appoints new members


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Nine new members were appointed to Community Board 5 this week.

The board, which includes Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Liberty Park, received five new members from City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s 30th District and four new members in Councilman Antonio Reynoso’s 34th District.

The new members in Crowley’s district are Tobias Sheppard Bloch of Glendale, Karamjit Dawali of Glendale, Sarah Feldman of Ridgewood, David Sands of Glendale and Alex Maureau of Glendale.

In Reynoso’s district, the new members are Raquel Namuche of Ridgewood, Cathleen Knight of Ridgewood, Tom C. Dowd of Ridgewood and Carmen Santana of Ridgewood.

Richard Huber of Glendale was not reappointed this year.

Community board members are appointed by the Queens borough president largely based on the recommendation of the City Council member(s) within the board’s jurisdiction.

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Historic Highland Park bridge to get makeover


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Plans for the rehabilitation of the historic stone bridge in Highland Park headlined the Community Board 5 Parks Services Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Joannene Kidder, the chief staff manager and director of community affairs for the city Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Division of Bridges, gave a presentation on the proposed plans for restoring the pedestrian span located on the Brooklyn-Queens border.

Kidder explained that the DOT, rather than the Parks Department, is involved with this project because the DOT is better equipped to perform bridge inspections and maintenance.

The presentation highlighted defects on the underside of the bridge including spalling (the fragmenting and flaking of the concrete of the bridge); cracking of bricks; efflorescence (a powdery substance that forms when brick and mortar are exposed to moist conditions); and graffiti and painting.

“Essentially what we’re doing is we’re going to take the entire superstructure down and reconstruct it from there up,” Kidder said of the proposed improvements to the bridge. “The substructure is in good condition, so we’re not expecting to do an entire reconstruction from under the ground up.”

The bridge is set to receive a lightweight, reinforced concrete slab on the top side of the archway as well as waterproofing. The DOT will clean the surfaces of the bridge; replace any missing stones in the structure; refill and repaint any missing mortar to match the existing mortar; and pressure wash all graffiti off of the bridge, while adding graffiti-proof surfaces.

The surrounding area of the bridge is also getting upgrades. The streetlights will be replaced with LED fixtures; under-deck lighting will be added; and an 8-foot-wide gravel path will be installed underneath the bridge’s arch. Additionally, crews will install curbs and re-grading for drainage and erosion control, and add more than 80 trees and shrubs to the landscape near the bridge.

Board members questioned why the path was being made of gravel and not asphalt.

“When you install asphalt, now you have an impervious surface that now has runoff and that drainage has to be accommodated somewhere,” Kidder said. “With the gravel, all the rainwater, all the stuff will just percolate back into the soil. They want as few impervious surfaces as possible inside parks.”

The contract for the project will be put out to bid this summer, and construction is planned for the fall. Work is expected to be completed in the fall of 2016.

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Parks Department announces start of Evergreen Park project in Glendale


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Work began this week on the long-awaited reconstruction of Glendale‘s Evergreen Park, the Parks Department announced.

The first phase of renovations to the 1.1-acre green space on 60th Place between 75th and St. Felix avenues includes removing “underused” bocce and shuffleboard courts in order to reconstruct an expanded playground that will feature, among other amenities, new spray showers.

“We expect construction to take about a year to complete, and look forward to reopening this playground next spring,” a Parks Department spokesperson said. “This work has been funded with $1 million from [City Councilwoman Elizabeth] Crowley.”

Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio also allocated $2.4 million for the second phase of Evergreen Park’s reconstruction, which will include a new asphalt playing area. According to the Parks Department spokesperson, the agency will seek “design consultant services for this project shortly.”

Plans to reconstruct Evergreen Park date back to September 2012, when Parks Department representatives outlined plans at a Community Board 5 Parks Services Committee meeting. Other components of the reconstruction’s first phase include the installation of new plantings and “World’s Fair-style” benches, new fencing, updated water fountains and a remodeled swing area.

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DOT proposes expanding bike network in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Gear up for round two of bike lane construction in Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village.

Aaron Fraint, project manager with NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) bicycle program, presented three options for a second phase of bike lane creation to the Community Board 5 Transportation Committee members on March 24.

All three options focused on creating a network of lanes.

“We would like to do a set of streets that all connect to each other because we see the bike network as just that, a network, rather than sets of routes that aren’t connected to anything,” Fraint said.

The first option would connect Ridgewood to Rego Park through Middle Village via Metropolitan Avenue, 69th Street and Eliot Avenue ending on Woodhaven Boulevard.

“Metropolitan Avenue is very busy corridor…with a lot of commercial and industrial activity,” Fraint said, which is why creating safe bike lanes is so important.

The avenue is also 41 feet wide, which allows just enough room for a shared bike lane in both directions.

The DOT proposed using “sharrows,” symbols with a green background that notify motorists that bicyclists may be present.

Option two connects Glendale to Rego Park through Middle Village by using Central Avenue connecting to Cooper Avenue to Woodhaven Boulevard, with a north/south route on 80th Street turning into Dry Harbor Road and 63rd Avenue, ending on Woodhaven Boulevard.

Fraint said that both Central and Cooper avenues — which are 40 feet wide — have enough space for 12-foot-wide shared lanes in both directions with 8-foot parking lanes.

Cooper Avenue already has a shared bike lane on the extra-wide sidewalks that were installed on the underpass after its reconstruction. These connect to a shared bike lane on 80th Street, so “we would pick up where shared lanes left off on 80th Street and bring it over to Woodhaven Boulevard,” Fraint said.

The final option seeks to connect Ridgewood to Long Island City through Maspeth along Fresh Pond Road, 59th Drive to Rust Street. In the opposite direction, the route would take Rust Street to 60th Street then to 60th Avenue and back down Fresh Pond Road.

A segment of Fresh Pond Road, which is 44 feet wide, can accommodate 14-foot shared lanes in both directions, keeping the configuration of one travel lane in each direction and parking on both sides.

59th Drive is one-way westbound from the turn off Fresh Pond Road up until 60th Street, and at 26 feet wide, “we will be able to keep the condition as is, but add a shared lane for cyclists,” Fraint said.

As 59th Drive continues past 60th Street, it becomes a 30-foot-wide two-way street, and the DOT is looking to put in a center line and shared lane symbols.

The DOT is still working out what type of bicycle facilities would be the best fit on Rust Street.
Fraint added that a lot of cyclists are using that route and it is a logical connector between Ridgewood and Long Island City.

After the board heard all three options, they discussed which ones they would like to see implemented in the community.

“I do like the Metropolitan, 69th and Eliot [route],” said John Maier, co-chair of the committee. “I think Eliot makes a lot of sense.”

For option two, Maier said that Fresh Pond Road is “already a traffic nightmare,” but that cyclists do use the route and it is worth taking a look at.

Panel members agreed that the first option would be the best fit for the communities. They liked option two, with some modifications to the 80th Street section. The DOT needs to further study the third option before the board accepts it. The DOT hopes to begin installing the accepted routes during 2015.

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CB 5 eyes city budget: district manager wants more cops, building inspectors


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

Speaking during the annual Community Board 5 preliminary budget hearing on March 11 in Middle Village, Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano called for more city funds to boost the 104th Precinct’s roster.

“What I do on behalf of the community board is in response to the preliminary budget as I see it,” Giordano said. “The estimated budget of the City of New York is in the neighborhood of $77 billion. And what I would normally focus on, as far as the expense budget goes, is our need and desire for 20 additional police officers in the 104th Precinct.”

According to Giordano, in 1995, patrol personnel were numbered at 203 officers, not including supervisors, and that number is down by 25 percent today. Even though crime is down, Giordano stated, the reduced staff at the precinct leads to response backlogs.

Other priorities for the expense budget, he touted, included “sanitation collection, cleaning dump-out locations, sanitation enforcement, education [and] fire department staffing.”

The district manager also recommended that the Department of Buildings hire more qualified building inspectors for Queens.

Community Board 5 District Manager, Gary Giordano (left) with Mark Hoffer from PANYNJ (center) and CB 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri during the CB 5 monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 11. (Photo by Anthony Giudice)

Community Board 5 District Manager, Gary Giordano (left) with Mark Hoffer from PANYNJ (center) and CB 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri during the CB 5 monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 11. (Photo by Anthony Giudice)

“I think the Buildings Department is down to like 19 inspectors for Queens County,” Giordano explained. “Since the economy is heating up and we’re going to see more construction, and we’re likely to see some pretty large buildings built … we need enough competent buildings inspectors to make sure that whatever construction is taking place is getting done according to plan and according to law and we also need those buildings inspectors to check on illegal uses.”

Parks in Maspeth and Middle Village are set to receive capital funding for reconstruction. Frank Principe Park in Maspeth will get $5 million and Juniper Valley Park is slated to receive funding to reconstruct either the running track or turf field, but the debate is not settled yet, Giordano said.

Projects that have already been funded and are currently underway include the installation of larger sewer pipes and the relocation of gas mains in the Penelope Avenue area in Middle Village and the Calamus Avenue/69th Street area.

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Community Board 5 prefers waterborne option for Cross Harbor Freight Program


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Despite a presentation from Port Authority (PANYNJ) representatives at its Wednesday meeting, Community Board 5 members remained steadfast in supporting water transportation over new rail infrastructure as part of the proposed Cross Harbor Freight Program.

Mark Hoffer, director of New Port Initiatives for PANYNJ, spoke to attendees at Christ the King Regional High School on the proposed options set forth by the Cross Harbor Freight Program to relieve the congestion and the region’s dependence on freight trucks.

“We’re looking to improve the movement of goods in the greater New York/New Jersey region by enhancing, improving the transportation of freight across New York Harbor,” Hoffer explained.

The PANYNJ released its Tier I Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) last November and has presented 10 options, with an 11th “no build” option. Of the 10 current options, five would be waterborne options and five would be rail tunnel alternatives. The “no build” option would only continue building projects that are already in the pipeline to be constructed, nothing new would be added.

The program is currently in the public hearing and comment stage and PANYNJ is seeking the public’s input.

“No decisions have been made to build anything,” Hoffer said. “It’s important, obviously, for us to hear from the public about how they feel, and which alternatives they think might be better than others or if there are options that you think we missed, what those might be.”

Board 5 members voiced their opinions on the proposed options of the Cross Harbor Freight Program during the meeting’s public forum.

Bob Holden, Board 5 Public Safety Committee chairperson, believes that creating an intermodal rail station in Maspeth would bring more truck traffic “in the heart of our neighborhoods in Queens.”

Several members of the board agreed with Holden’s opinion and feel that a rail option would negatively affect the communities, while one of the five waterborne options would better suit the area.

A representative for Assemblywoman Margaret Markey presented a statement by Markey on the Cross Harbor Freight Program.

“Community Board 5 already faces a severe impact from current operations on rail lines that pass through many of our communities,” according to Markey’s statement. “I will focus my formal DEIS comments on the heightened threat that we will face as this program proceeds. Our neighborhoods must not be unfairly forced to pay the price to achieve the laudable goal of reducing cross harbor truck freight traffic.”

Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri thought back to the days when freight was shipped through New York without all of today’s roadways and bridges.

“How did we do it without these bridges, without the thruways, without the expressways and why can’t we do it now?” he asked.

Hoffer answered Arcuri’s question by saying, “the world changed.”

“We’ve made some bad decisions in the past, the government made some bad decisions in the past,” Hoffer said. “We let a lot of our transportation infrastructure go to pieces and we fell in love with the internal combustion engine.”

All these factors and more have lead to the current situation of a “truck-centric” system. Hoffer assured those in attendance that PANYNJ are looking at waterborne options.

Following the presentation, the board adopted a resolution from its Transportation Services Committee to submit official comment in opposition to the Cross Harbor Freight Project. The resolution indicated the board believes “the current options of the Cross Harbor DEIS are inadequate for a variety of reasons.” The panel urged that waterborne alternatives be considered.

The public can submit official comment to the Port Authority by email at feedback@crossharborstudy.com through Friday, March 20.

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CB 5 committees pan Cross Harbor Tunnel plans


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Building a Cross Harbor Tunnel would shift the tri-state area’s traffic problems into Brooklyn and Queens, members of the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Transportation and Public Transit committees declared during a meeting Tuesday night in Glendale.

Panelists panned options in the Port Authority’s Cross Harbor Freight Program that call for a train tunnel or a combined train/truck tube through the harbor between rail yards in New Jersey and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The options include increased activity on the Long Island Rail Road’s Bay Ridge line and the connecting Fresh Pond Rail Yard in Glendale — the only freight rail terminal linking geographic Long Island and the rest of the country.

Though the Port Authority claims the tunnel plans would help reduce tractor-trailer traffic on its existing Hudson River and harbor crossings, CB 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri charged, the proposal wouldn’t remedy congestion, but rather move it elsewhere in the city.

According to Arcuri, the tunnel plans included the creation or expansion of intermodal shipping facilities and warehouses near the Fresh Pond Rail Yard as well as Maspeth and East New York. At these sites, goods would be loaded and off-loaded between train cars and small trucks. Citing analysis performed by the Glendale-based Civics United for Railroad and Environmental Solutions (CURES), Arcuri said, the tunnels would effectively add hundreds of truck trips each day onto local streets.

“By taking the largest tractor-trailers off the road and putting [their cargo] on the trains, they’re adding thousands of smaller trucks to our area,” he said. “We need to come up with a comprehensive argument against this current plan.”

John Maier, Public Transit Committee co-chair, echoed those sentiments, noting that much of the tunnel program’s concepts are based in “theory.” Municipal waste and construction and demolition debris from the city and Nassau and Suffolk counties make up the bulk of all local freight rail shipments. Other goods, he noted, are largely shipped by truck.

“The tunnel would do more to alleviate traffic outside of New York City than within it,” Maier said. “It’s not creating a lot of jobs because a lot of [shipping] is automated. It’s not a lot of yard jobs. It’s not a lot of anything, really. It would only reduce 6 percent of traffic on the Hudson River crossings while adding much more than 6 percent of traffic to East New York and Maspeth.”

Jean Tanler of the Maspeth Industrial Business Association stated that companies in the neighborhood’s Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) expressed similar concerns about a Cross Harbor Tunnel, but also pressed for easier shipping methods to reduce costs and travel time.

“There’s definitely demand,” she said. “It would save companies a lot of money to shave off a day of transit, either by rail or by barge.”

Local logistics also make a Cross Harbor Tunnel plan unfeasible, according to CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano. The plans indicate a tunnel would bring between 16 and 21 trains through the area each day — and current freight rail facilities are already overwhelmed with traffic.

“Right there, it’s physically impossible to pull that off unless the trains just rolled through at all hours of the day,” Giordano said.

Arcuri concluded that “the current plan is unacceptable” and that the board needed to present a resolution not only dismissing the Cross Harbor Tunnel, but also advocating for increased barge shipments and container float operations across the harbor. The chairperson said a resolution will be developed and considered at the committees’ next meeting on Tuesday, March 24.

Meanwhile, Queens residents will have the opportunity to speak out on the Cross Harbor program during a public hearing on Tuesday, March 3, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Blvd. in Kew Gardens.

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CB 5 blasts Maspeth creek aeration plant plan


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Rendering via DEP

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Revisions to the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) plans for a Newtown Creek aeration facility in Maspeth were panned by Community Board 5 members during the advisory body’s meeting this week.

The proposed aeration facility, located at 58-26 47th St. on the creek’s waterfront, would house a 70-foot by 40-foot aeration building equipped with two blowers, external transformers, ventilation and air conditioning units.

Air would be diffused along the length of a pipe from the facility into the creek in an effort to increase dissolved oxygen levels in the surrounding water and reduce pollution levels.

Ray Meshkati, accountable project manager for the Newtown Creek East Planned Aeration Project, was optimistic that the project would be approved. “We think that we should be able to place this on line sometime in 2018,” he stated.

Meshkati’s optimism, however, was met with sharp criticism from board members after it was announced that public access to the waterfront space was omitted from the updated plans.

“This board passed a resolution in 2013 asking the DEP to give us several options in terms of public waterfront access,” Land Use Committee chair Walter Sanchez said.

Board 5 chair Vincent Arcuri also expressed outrage and concern over the changes.

“I don’t like people, especially agency people, going back on what they said to us,” Arcuri said. “Gary [Giordano] and I met with the commissioner and out of that meeting a sketch was produced showing future dedicated space to the promenade. Why this final document comes out without that future space shown or dedicated is an insult to me, this board and the community.”

Tom Smith, a representative from the Department of City Planning, explained that the DEP was granted a mayoral override allowing for the omission of public access along the waterfront and proposed promenade area due to questions over public safety.

“The concern from the agency was that this area may have a safety and security issue,” Smith said. “This would not be a staffed facility at all hours of the day. There’s little pedestrian traffic and any waterfront access would be significantly removed from the street itself.”

DEP Director of Community Affairs Ibrahim Abdul-Matin echoed these concerns: “The understanding is that as the larger area, which is mostly an industrial area, develops, there is going to be a larger plan for the entire waterfront. I can’t comment as to how [public access] will fit into a larger plan until there’s a much more comprehensive look at that waterfront as it develops and changes.”

Board 5 member John Maier expressed similar concerns regarding the override of the original plan. “Public space will create energy and activity that’s not there now, but could be in the future,” he said. “I think to deny the public access is to deny the potential. That’s sad and unfortunate.”

The expansion plan also faced opposition from the local Newtown Creek Alliance. In a Feb. 11 letter, NCA Program Manager Willis Elkins petitioned the DEP and DEC for a delay in the project, citing concerns over habitat, wildlife and quality-of-life issues.

“We feel that the expansion should not advance without a serious re-evaluation of alternatives that can offer long-term solutions to improving water quality,” Elkins wrote.

The proposed expansion is part of a larger system of automatic air blowers and diffusers installed along the length of the creek. The first aeration facility, built along the English Kills near the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge, was completed in 2008.

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Community Board 5 nixes Ridgewood street fair’s permit


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

festival-file-photo

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO AND ROBERT POZARYCKI

After hearing complaints from Ridgewood residents, Community Board 5 recommended Wednesday night that the city deny a street fair application for this summer’s Fresh Pond Road Street Festival.

Twenty-two of 34 members voted against the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens’ application for the feast that shuts a five-block section of Fresh Pond Road, from Woodbine to Menahan streets, on four consecutive evenings.

At previous meetings, area residents complained the festival brought quality-of-life problems including increased traffic, fewer available parking spaces and some rowdy behavior.

The board narrowly recommended last year’s street fair permit, 18-15. Wednesday’s vote marked the first time since 1996 that the board recommended the permit’s denial.

During Wednesday’s meeting at Middle Village Christ the King Regional High School, Board 5 chairman Vincent Arcuri said the board’s Executive Committee was deadlocked on making a decision about this year’s festival.

“We had the most information we’ve ever received from an applicant for any event,” he said, “but the committee came up with no consensus.”

Board 5 member John Maier, who sits on the Executive Committee, proposed the motion to vote against the street festival permit: “Since I was unable to be there [last month] due to travel issues, I would have been the deciding vote and there would have been a vote on the table to deny the festival.”

Lifelong Ridgewood resident Margaret Chance reiterated previously voiced concerns over the festival during the board’s public forum.

“For the past 20 years, we’ve had negative impact from the Italian festival,” Chance said. “It’s way too long. Every year, it’s increased for longer days and longer hours.”

Chance also cited the relocation of bus stops and an excess of traffic and illegally parked cars on streets as major concerns surrounding the festival.

“Fresh Pond Road is way too narrow,” she said. “The vendors set up too early and the trucks and rides are way too wide to fit comfortably on Fresh Pond Road to allow two-way traffic to go along while the feast is not happening.”

Board 5 member Lucy Dolce, who is also a member of the Federazione, made an impassioned plea to the board to approve the festival permit.

“We have complied with everything this board wanted and more. We’ve done it all,” Dolce said. “This is a festival for families. These are four days for a working class community to be able to take their children and enjoy something at a very cheap cost.”

Proceeds from the festival benefit the Ridgewood-based nonprofit that provides free services to local senior citizens. According to Dolce, the organization no longer receives city and state funding and uses the proceeds from the festival to offset operating costs.

Dolce refuted the charges of police complaints and crime at prior festivals. “There have been no complaints. The police department would not allow us to continue if there were complaints,” she said.

Dolce abstained from the vote due to her membership with the nonprofit organization.

The 22nd Fresh Pond Street Festival is tentatively scheduled to begin on Thursday, Sept. 3, and run until Sunday, Sept. 6. The Mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office will have the final say on the matter.

The board did, however, recommend approval for several other local street festivals scheduled to take place this year on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village and Grand Avenue in Maspeth.

Editor’s note: A previous version incorrectly stated the vote was the first time Board 5 voted against the Fresh Pond Road street festival.

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BP Katz denies proposed Ridgewood rental building in industrial zone


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of  Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

Ridgewood residents concerned about the loss of industrial space scored a major victory after Borough President Melinda Katz rejected a variance for a new three-story building with a penthouse on land zoned for manufacturing uses.

The decision comes after Councilman Antonio Reynoso and Community Board 5 opposed the project, which would be located at 1506 Decatur St., also known as 11-01 Irving Ave.

The total proposed size of the building would be nearly 5,000 square feet, and there would be two apartments on each of the three floors, and the penthouse above.

However, the area is part of the South of Myrtle Avenue Manufacturing Area (SOMA) Industrial Business Zone (IBZ), and although the block has low row houses with multiple dwellings, the land is zoned for manufacturing use. Katz and supporters of the city’s manufacturing sector hopes that it could be used as its zoning intended.

“Even though the applicant’s site is narrow and small, some manufacturing businesses may be able to utilize the space due to technological advances in recent years. They can operate and function cleanly and more efficiently using a smaller footprint,” Katz said in her decision. “Therefore, this site should be development with uses that are compatible with the industrial nature of the SOMA IBZ.”

The site is a 2,258-square-foot vacant lot that once had a residential building that was demolished in 1971, according to Katz. 11-01 Irving Ave LLC, which submitted the proposal for the project, purchased the land in 2013 for $180,000, according to city records, more than double its trading price in 2005 ($81,000).

Community Board 5 denied the plans for the site in a 21-13 vote in June for similar reasons as those given by the borough president.

In her decision, Katz said the loss of the manufacturing businesses over the past decades made many parcels of industrial land be redeveloped for other uses, but some should be preserved for the future of the industry.

“Industrial Business Zones were created for the purpose of protecting industrially zoned areas from other types of development while the manufacturing sector of the New York City economy reshapes itself,” Katz said.

The proposal will now go to the Board of Standard and Appeals, which has the final say on the plan.

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DOT unveils new proposal for intersection between Queens and Brooklyn


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of DOT

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is trying to untangle an intersection where Wyckoff Avenue, Myrtle Avenue and Palmetto Road meet.

By restricting car turns, the department hopes to prevent the many injuries and some deaths that have occurred because of the “confusion and chaos” of the area, according to a representative from the DOT. They presented all of these problems and possible solutions to Community Board 5 on Wednesday.

“This is a problem area, to say the least,” a DOT representative told the board. “So we’re looking very closely at this area. The injuries and deaths need to stop.”

Like a tangled clump of yarn, there are 25 different turns that cars can make, with just as many pedestrian injuries. Between 2008 and 2012, 29 people were injured in some combination between the intersections. In the last five years two people died on the eastern side of the intersection, according to NYPD records collected by the transportation department

Along with banning five turns, they also want to extend curbs for pedestrians in order to shorten the distance needed to cross the many streets where Queens and Brooklyn meet. The labyrinth of intersections also holds a huge transit hub with access to M and L subways and B13, B26, B52, B54, Q55 and Q58 buses. All of which creates huge volumes of people competing with huge volumes of cars all trying to reach their final destination.

The intersection that straddle the Brooklyn-Queens line has always posed a problem for the transportation department and for members of the community board.

“We have looked at this intersection twice in 10 years,” Chair of the Community Board Vincent Arcuri said. “And we just can’t seem to figure out the best solution yet so hopefully we can figure something out this time around.”

The DOT is also considering installment of flashing yellow warning lights on the subway support columns and in January they installed more lights under the train overpass.

The final decision will be made next Tuesday during the board’s transportation committee meeting.

 

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