Tag Archives: Community Board 5

More bike lanes coming to western Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

The wheels are turning in the right direction for one community’s push to get more bike lanes.

At a recent Community Board (CB5) Transportation Committee meeting, the Department of City Planning (DCP) revealed a list of streets that could have bike lanes in place by early 2014.

The DCP is looking to add six potential new routes to the area and streets that are under consideration are Eliot Avenue, Juniper Boulevard South, Central Avenue, Cooper Avenue, Woodward Avenue, Onderdonk Avenue, 80th Street and 69th Street.

Currently, there are a few lanes in the district, which encompasses Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village and Glendale, but hardly any at all that connect the bike-friendly neighborhoods surrounding the district to the north in Sunnyside and Long Island City, and parts of northern Brooklyn.

Map courtesy of DOT

“If you look at the bike map right now there is a big hole where Community Board 5 is,” said Donald Passantino, a member of the CB 5 Transportation Committee and an avid bike rider. “Part of this is that these [lanes] are supposed to connect with other neighborhoods.”

The board requested new lanes throughout the community last year through the Department of Transportation (DOT). The request was then turned over to City Planning, which has been assessing streets that the community recommended for new bike lanes.

Now the DCP will review bike planning practices with the DOT and continue to analyze the most practical streets for lanes, and then in the coming weeks meet with the community again to get additional input, according to a DCP representative.

“The real advantage of bike lanes more than anything else is that they calm traffic,” Passantino said. “The [street] looks narrower, which forces cars to drive slower and cuts down on deaths.”

City Planning will meet with the community board members again this month to talk about potential lanes.

Community Board 5 Bike Lane Street Design Presentation

 

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Glendale rallies against proposed homeless shelter


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

A senior center, a school, maybe even a park is fine, but residents in Glendale want to shut the door on a proposed homeless shelter.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. led a protest on Friday in front a defunct factory at 78-16 Cooper Avenue, which nonprofit Samaritan Village plans to transform into transitional housing if its proposal is approved by the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS).

“We are against a 125-unit homeless shelter that the city is planning to ram down this community’s throat,” said Vallone, who is running to be the next borough president. “This is the wrong location and it’s the wrong size.”

The community has been against this proposal since last year when rumors started. But recently Samaritan Village negotiated with Michael Wilner, the owner of the property, and submitted a proposal to the DHS. The nonprofit also sent a letter to Community Board 5 and local leaders to officially notify them of the plans.

Wilner could not be reached for comment as of press time. And when The Courier contacted Samaritan Village, which operates multiple shelters around the city, the group said that it would not comment as the proposal is still being reviewed.

The nonprofit said it plans to insert 125 families in the building and it will have security.

Community members are worried that adding that number of people in the neighborhood would inundate already overcrowded schools.

Residents also believe that Glendale isn’t a good fit for the shelter, because transportation is limited since there are no subway lines.

The factory, which used to manufacture plane parts, is contaminated, according to multiple sources, and the building would need millions in tax dollars to repair.

So instead of a homeless shelter, residents said they would prefer to see a school, a park for local kids or a senior center for the many elderly in the area.

“Right now I’m looking for someplace for my mother,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“I’m looking for something that I’d feel is appropriate, but I have to look upstate. So we need something in our neighborhood.”

They aren’t completely sure what the site should become, but there is a unified belief that a homeless shelter will damage the community so they don’t want it.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Augie Trinchese. “I’ve lived here for 41 years and I don’t want to see my property value go down.”

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Glendale community to fight proposed homeless shelter


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Not in my backyard.

That’s the sentiment of residents, business owners, politicians and civic leaders about a proposed homeless shelter in an empty, rundown Glendale factory.

The community is planning to prevent nonprofit Samaritan Village from buying the property at 78-16 Cooper Avenue and transforming it into transitional housing if the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) gives its approval.

“They [Samaritan Village] need to be reasonable about it and do what is in the best interest of the community and the people that would reside there,” said Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association. “It wouldn’t make sense to put them in area where there is no transportation.”

Last week, Samaritan Village told Community Board 5 in a letter that the nonprofit has submitted a proposal to DHS requesting to convert the site in question. There are no shelters in CB 5, according to DHS, so it would be the first in the area if the plan comes to fruition.

The nonprofit wants to house 125 families on the property, but opponents of the homeless shelter believe that would overwhelm the schools in Glendale, which many say are already overcrowded.

The site, which was a factory devoted to making airplane parts more than a decade ago, rests on toxic and contaminated land, according to Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who has toured the area a number of times.

Crowley, who also plans to fight the proposal, said the building is in dire need of repairs that would cost taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars.”

“It looks like the plan is not economically feasible and would be a waste,” she said.

Last year, when rumors surfaced that Samaritan Village wanted to buy the property from owner Michael Wilner of Wilner Realty Management LLC., the Glendale Civic Association quickly voiced its opposition.

Masi conceded the shelter is a good cause, but said it would be better for Samaritan Village to pick a different location. She suggested the shuttered Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica or St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst.

Samaritan Village declined to comment on the pressure from the community against its proposal and why it choose that site.

“Our proposal is under review,” a spokesperson for the organization said.

For the moment, no meetings have been scheduled with CB 5. The board is waiting to see the full proposal and the Department of Homeless Services’ assessment, which will be “carefully reviewed,” according to a DHS official.

“What we need to do right now is to communicate that this is an inappropriate site to the applicant and to the Department of Homeless Services,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5.

Samaritan Village: Glendale Homeless Shelter Notification Letter

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Glendale, Middle Village still dealing with train noise, pollution


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

After years of drawing attention to the issue, Glendale and Middle Village residents say they are still waiting on promises from public officials to fix trains that disturb and pollute their neighborhoods.

Residents say the trains loaded with garbage and construction debris wake people up on their way through Queens to a town upstate. They add that the railroad cars make screeching sounds and idle behind houses while the engines emit harmful gases from diesel fuels.

The MTA-owned trains are leased to companies including CSX and New York and Atlantic Railway.

At the end of March, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi was able to allocate $3 million from the state budget towards updating the engines. Retrofitting the trains in question, which were designed in accordance with 1970s standards, will significantly reduce the impact of gases in the community.

“We are still in the process of working with the MTA and we’ll see how that is going play out,” said Alex Schnell, chief of staff to the assemblymember.

Congressmember Grace Meng, who toured the Fresh Pond Rail Yard in Glendale in April to learn about the problem, wrote a letter to the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies concerning the federal budget. She asked for $30 million from the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) to retrofit old trains with the new engines.

“This level of funding would help alleviate the significant unmet demand and would assist in upgrading inefficiencies,” Meng said in the letter.

As of press time, Meng had not received a response.

For residents like Anthony Pedalino, elected officials’ actions to date have not been fast enough.

With the open car locomotives running below ground level, Pedalino and others suggested that a tunnel be built or adequate covers set up for the cars to stop the leak of foul smells.

“That protection is the least they can do,” Pedalino said.

He sends out emails to a number of public officials almost daily to remind them about the issue.

“I think locomotives with new engines are a big plus and will cut down on a significant amount of pollution. This is a wonderful start,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5. “I can understand people being upset, even though that’s some good news.”

 

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Committees approve Ridgewood industrial zone


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Ridgewood may soon become more industrial.

Community Board (CB) 5’s Zoning, Land Use and Special Economic Development Committees approved the idea of a proposed industrial business zone in the neighborhood at a July 1 meeting.

“For as long as I can remember, that has been the legal use for those businesses in that zone,” said CB5 District Manager Gary Giordano. “I think the sentiment is that this provides that certain areas be set aside for manufacturing.”

At the next CB5 meeting, the committees will recommend their position to the full community board.

“It is obvious to me that the committee members feel that manufacturing is important in both NYC and the U.S., and we should try to foster that,” Giordano said.

The next CB5 meeting is scheduled for July 10 at Christ the King High School at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

 

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Star of Queens: Mercy Wong, Community Board 5 member, co-founder, We Love Ridgewood Theater


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

profile mercy wong

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Since Mercy Wong lives near the Ridgewood Theater, she is interested in how the community could use the now-shuttered establishment. As a member of Community Board (CB) 5, Wong is involved with the campaign to re-designate the theater for uses that would enhance her community.

With the theater slated for sale, the focus has shifted to involving the community and negotiating with the new owners.

“We want the community to be aware that the theater is being sold,” she said. “It’s an important piece of the community.”

Wong said CB5 and We Love Ridgewood Theater are set on engaging the owners in the hope they will be receptive to “keeping the place relevant.”

BACKGROUND: Wong moved to New York in 2004 after attending the University of California, Berkeley. She received her graduate degree from Columbia University’s architecture school.

Wong works for HLW International, a 128-year-old architecture firm. She mainly works on designing corporate and commercial buildings, but Wong said her personal interest is “doing things that can help the community architecturally, which is why I was drawn to the theater.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: “The moment I decided that I was going to do something about the theater. It kind of opened up a world to me that I wasn’t quite familiar with before.”
Wong said she now feels more connected to the place where she lives. As an architect, she feels lucky to have a chance to work on a project like this, helping re-purpose a historic property.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: The Ridgewood Theater is Wong’s first project as a CB5 member. She is tasked with imagining uses for the building and its historical facade and negotiating with the new owners. She hopes the community will be involved in the decision and potentially benefit from it.

“If there are performance arts or an entertainment venue, that’s good because it’s something that can bring age and ethnicity together.”

Other possible uses on Wong’s list include an art gallery, small restaurant and gathering place for seniors.

INSPIRATION: Wong says that she is “very humbled to be surrounded by members [of CB5] that have been there for a long time.

BY LUKE TABET

 

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Western Queens to get more bike lanes


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Department of City Planning

Make way for the cyclists.

Residents and members of Community Board (CB) 5 have been brainstorming where to install bike lanes.
The Department of City Planning (DCP) met with CB 5 and residents of the neighborhood on Saturday, May 11.

“A lot of western Queens is tough for bike routes, but we’re going to try to do the best we can,” said CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano.

The industrial area already has accomodation for bikes in Highland Park, Cypress Hills Street, Cooper Avenue, 78th Avenue, 79th Street and Forest Park. DCP is planning to install bike lanes in both directions along the Cooper Avenue underpass from 69th Drive to 74th Street.

Community members at Saturday’s meeting mooted areas along Dry Harbor Road, 80th Street, Elliot Avenue, Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue. Some of those spots are major arteries congested with trucks, making it a challenge for CB 5 to accommodate bicyclists there. DCP is targeting areas where bikes will have minimal conflict with vehicles including trucks and cars.

With summer coming up and more people hopping into the saddle, Giordano said he hopes the community will have a better idea of where the bike lanes are going within a few months.

“You have more and more people riding bicycles these days,” he said.

Officials said the bike lanes are perfectly feasible and the routes will even be attractive. They added that lanes can be installed on both one- and two-way streets. They will either be shared lanes that put bicyclists on the road with vehicles or separate lanes to the side of the road.

For people going on longer rides, DCP and CB 5 are considering a connection from Grand Street to the Williamsburg Bridge in western Queens and a route from 62nd Road to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the east.

Now that the community has voiced its requests, DCP will study the feasibility of proposed routes and receive community board input. It will be up to the Department of Transportation to actually implement the routes. A timeline has not been established.

“We need to increasingly be concerned about the safety of the cyclists, the pedestrians and the drivers who have to look in all sorts of directions,” Giordano said.

 

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New train engines to improve Queens air quality


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi's Office

Antiquated, high emission train engines have been a great concern for residents in the industrial areas of southwest Queens. But now, an upgrade is on the way.

Freight trains passing through areas of Community Board 5 and 9 have been running past residential homes for years, causing the track’s neighbors to question any potential health risks.

“This is a quality of life issue,” said Mary Parisen, chair of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES).

CURES has worked feverishly to ensure upgraded locomotive engines for the area, and through work with Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and a coalition of elected officials, managed to secure $3 million in this year’s legislative budget to upgrade engines.

“This is the first win in what will be an ongoing fight to protect the health of countless families in Queens,” Hevesi said.

“With New York State’s recognition that outdated trains can be severely damaging to communities they pass through, we have taken the first step toward fixing this problem.”

The funds will kick off a pilot project that will upgrade the first of a number of antiquated, high- emission trains.

The trains, owned and leased by the LIRR, are currently equipped with “archaic” 1970s engines, and operate throughout the city and Long Island, carrying waste and cargo near residents’ backyards, schools, parks and beaches.

However, after the upgrade, there is expected to be an annual reduction in nitrogen oxide, a known byproduct of diesel engines, by up to 76 percent, or 120 tons of emission over 10 years, according to Hevesi’s office.

After years of work advocating for modernized engines, Parisen said that she and the other members of CURES are “ecstatic” simply because they no longer need to convince agencies and the government that the upgrade needed to be done.

“They all acknowledged that this needs to happen, now it’s just a matter of how we’re going to do it,” she said.

The allocated $3 million is going to the LIRR and the MTA, Parisen said, and they are going to upgrade however many trains they can with the amount.

“The locomotives now are doing the most damage to the most densely-populated areas,” she said. “We need to make sure the neighborhood gets the best locomotive possible.”

The coalition plans to continue petitioning the state until all necessary fleet upgrades have been completed, said Hevesi’s office.

 

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Votes split on USTA expansion


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of USTA

The votes are in on the much-debated expansions to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and the results are mixed.

Half of the six voting Community Boards are in favor of the US Tennis Association (USTA) moving 0.68 acres out of its current property — so long as the organization meets certain conditions set by each board.

Board 6 voted 21-6 and Board 8 26-8 in favor on Wednesday, March 13; Communty Board 3 voted 33-1 against the next night. The six advisory decisions will now go to Borough President Helen Marshall, who has 60 days to decide on the expansions. Marshall’s decision then goes to the City Council and the City Planning Commission.

Marshall will hold a forum on the plan April 4 at Borough Hall. The Borough Board, led by Marshall, will vote on the plan April 8.

Two boards voted against the proposal last week, one of which could switch to yes if USTA meets nine regulations — similar to those set by other boards — including setting up a conservancy for the park. Community Board 7 voted yes, but with eight conditions, on March 11.

Each board has recommended USTA discount court prices for seniors and children, and invest in the park’s crumbling facilities.

“Community Board review was the first step in a multi-layered governmental review process that also includes the borough president, City Planning, City Council and State Legislature,” said Tennis Center Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner. “We look forward to continuing our dialogue as we move through the different phases.”

Parkland advocates against the plan, however, say they’re going to continue informing residents of the downside of the plans. “I think the community boards’ vote will have no impact whatsoever on the BP’s vote or the City Council members,” said NYC Park Advocates president Geoffrey Croft. “They seem perfectly willing to give away additional parkland to this private business for concessions.”

 

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Carl Berner, Middle Village civic leader, dies days before 111th birthday


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Robert Holden

Carl Berner was someone Middle Village residents affectionately remember as a civic leader, a Mr. Fix-It, and someone who put his community before himself.

Berner died Monday, January 7 at 110 years old. He was born on January 27, 1902, and just missed his 111th birthday.

“If you needed something, anything, with plumbing or even your sink, he knew how to solve it,” said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, on his longtime friend.

In 1938, Berner helped to establish a neighborhood civic group, which later grew into the Juniper Park Civic Association.

The supercentenarian was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States in 1928. He found himself in New York looking for work.

He learned English, but was still slightly discriminated against because of his German accent. After a grueling search, he found work and became the first night manager at the Chrysler Building. Years passed and he held other odd jobs, but when the Depression hit, he opened his own toy company. The company thrived, and some of his products became collectors’ items.

Holden said that Berner was good with his hands, and this helped not only his business, but also his neighbors. In 1938, he and his wife moved to Middle Village.

“[Berner] said to me, ‘I take pride in my neighborhood,’” said Holden.

Decades passed, and Berner grew older, but it seemed that something as trivial as age could not stop him from doing his day-to-day activities.

“I would see this elderly man, climbing a ladder and getting onto the roof,” said Holden. Berner would frequently walk around the neighborhood, and Holden said that even at 105 years old, he was up on step ladders fixing things. He also used his walks to pick up trash that he found along the roads.

“I just said, ‘Wow, this guy is amazing,’” said Holden.

Vincent Arcuri, chair of Community Board 5, said Berner was “a leader in community activism; a model for children and adults.”

He received several awards for his volunteer work in the community, including the “Partner in a Cleaner New York Certificate of Appreciation” from the mayor and the Department of Sanitation.

In his home, Berner lived “a simple life,” with oatmeal every morning and very minimal technology.

Holden said that he only had a television, a rotary phone, and “shunned all of the modern stuff.”

“He lived like a 19th century person,” laughed Holden. “He never wanted to go to the doctor, he never took medication. When he was 105 he would walk two miles a day.”

However, Holden said that during the last year of his life, Berner started to “slow down,” and an attendant moved into his home. After his passing, there was no ceremony and he was instead cremated, according to his wishes.

Carl Berner on top of the Chrysler Building when was younger. 

 

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Ridgewood plaza a reality


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The proposed plan for Ridgewood’s 71st Avenue Triangle will become a reality when a temporary pedestrian plaza is installed where the road meets Myrtle Avenue and Stephen Street.

This project furthers Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to create public, open plazas throughout the city.

Ridgewood residents and area business owners met Tuesday night, September 4, with the city Department of Transportation (DOT) and officials from the Local Development Corp., Business Improvement District (BID) and Community Board 5 to brainstorm designs for the temporary plaza.

“We need to improve Myrtle Avenue,” said John Mistretta, the original owner of Joe and John’s Pizzeria, which has been open on Myrtle Avenue for nearly five decades.

Mistretta believes that with this new pedestrian plaza, people will be encouraged to come and walk around more frequently, hopefully restoring the success of the area’s retail businesses.

“We need to make it more like it was 40 years ago. There was a big, main shopping area, now it’s slowed down,” he said.

Along with promoting local businesses, the 71st Avenue Triangle was chosen as the plaza site because of its proximity to bus transit. The change will also widen crosswalks, hopefully eliminating any pedestrian-vehicle conflict.

Emily Weidenhof, project manager for the DOT, said that the installation will not affect any emergency response time, traffic will be minimally impacted, and any parking spots lost will be reclaimed on the opposite side of Myrtle Avenue.

Weidenhof encouraged those at Tuesday’s meeting to discuss among themselves just what was needed for the temporary plaza. She noted a need for pedestrian crossings, convenient seating, good lighting and continued maintenance.

“Your input is extremely important. That’s what helps these things meet your needs,” Weidenhof told the crowd. “If we get to the community, we can come back to enhance it in a more permanent condition later on.” In order to promote and enhance the temporary site, plans of public art forums and street fairs were discussed. The Ridgewood BID will be responsible for maintenance of the area, and business owners expressed a need for public trash and recycle bins.

The DOT, Ridgewood LDC and BID are continuing to work with local business owners and residents to accommodate all of their needs. If the temporary plaza proves successful in the community, a permanent site will be established by early next year.

“Build something, more people will come down,” said Mistretta. “We gotta give it to the people, to get it back.”

 

CB5 chair: Glendale homeless shelter could be environmental nightmare


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Community concern caused by a rumored homeless shelter in Glendale may have been premature.

The site in question, 78-16 Cooper Avenue, “does not meet Building Code requirements for residential occupancy and, due to the age and condition and previous occupancies, could be an environmental nightmare,” Community Board 5 said in a release.

Rumors began circulating last week that the owner of the property, Michael Wilner, was in talks with a nonprofit that could potentially use the site for a homeless shelter.

No application for a shelter has been submitted, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) said.

“The building, which currently has several active Department of Building violations, may contain lead paint, asbestos and various PCB contaminants. The cost and time to convert this structure to a residential facility would be extensive and possibly twice as much as new construction,” Vincent Arcuri, chair of CB5 said.

The vacant factory currently has nine open Department of Building violations.

Prior occupants included an aircraft parts manufacturer, knitting mills, machine shops and Eastern Cabinet Company, Arcuri said, while adding there are rumors the facility was also used as part of the Manhattan Project.

“The site is located adjacent to a known Brownfield site and, due to its low elevation and location, may contain underground pockets of PERC (dry cleaning fluid) from the many defunct knitting mills in the area,” Arcuri said.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley came out against the site being used for a homeless shelter, saying the nearly 3 acre space should serve the community.

Wilner would not return requests for comment.

If Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced an emergency condition, the site may be able to be used, however.

Nine new shelters have opened in the city recently, prompted by the homeless population’s record numbers. There are 43,774 people currently in homeless shelters, according to the DHS.

 

Traffic plan divides Glendale


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Glendale neighbors are at odds over a plan that will divert one block’s traffic to neighboring streets.

For years, residents and officials have pleaded with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to put the brakes on vehicles speeding down Doran Avenue.

Though DOT studies determined that cars were in fact speeding down the block, speed humps were unable to be installed due to the prevalence of driveways and utilities.

At the Community Board 5 meeting on Wednesday, July 11, Queens Borough DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy presented a plan to curb the speeders — reverse the direction of Doran Avenue between Woodhaven Boulevard and 89th Street.

“We believe by splitting it in the middle, it will give the community better circulation to get to their homes,” McCarthy said.

Currently, the street runs westbound from Woodhaven Boulevard, and residents complain drivers rush down the block to beat the light situated on 88th Street.

“We have a problem on our hands, I see it and I live it every day,” said Regina Crowley, who lives on Doran Avenue and is the sister of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.

More than a dozen locals spoke at the meeting that had more than three times as many attendees as normal. The speakers were split nearly 50/50 on the plan.

“The proposal flies in the face of basic equity,” said Toby Sheppard Bloch who lives on Rutledge Avenue. “These changes will cause more traffic on Rutledge and 74th Avenue than is currently on Doran Avenue.”

Traffic that now travels on Doran would be diverted to the neighboring two-way streets, Rutledge and 74th avenues.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley agreed that the burden of traffic should not be dumped from one block to another.

“What we do need is to come up with a plan that the community board can accept and the surrounding streets can also agree with that will help decrease the speed of vehicles coming down Doran Avenue,” she said.

McCarthy said that the DOT anticipated residents on other streets would be concerned about increased traffic as a result of the change. The department surveyed the surrounding streets and found speed humps can be installed, but the blocks would have to wait for studies to be done after the plan is put into place.

“We don’t put a speed hump on a street unless there is speeding,” McCarthy said.

The plan went before the community board’s transportation committee, which met after the paper went to press.

 

Pedestrian plaza proposed for Glendale


| brennison@queenscourier.com

DSC_0009w

A proposed pedestrian plaza may be placed in Glendale, but not before plans are processed by pols and the public.

The proposal from the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation would turn 70th Street between Myrtle and Cooper Avenues into a pedestrian plaza. The street runs next to famed German restaurant Zum Stammtisch — which said it would maintain the outdoor seating area and provide camera security, according to the DOT — and adjacent to the Glendale Veterans Triangle.

As is often the case when a street is closed, traffic was one of the first issues broached by locals.

“This street is dangerous as it is, I’m not sure how closing it would help,” said local Maureen Wiles.

Potential traffic is also among the concerns of the local community board.

While Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said the plan is still very early in the process, he wants to see traffic counts for 70th Street and determine if emergency vehicles’ response time would be affected by the street closure. These two questions must be resolved before the community board supports the plan, he said.

Before any plans, which are still in the review stage, are finalized, the area’s councilmember also wants to make sure residents’ concerns and opinions are heard.

“The creation of a new plaza in Glendale must include public input and be welcomed by the community,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “As future plans for the plaza are discussed, I’ll continue to work closely with Ted Renz of the Ridgewood Local Development Corp. and the Department of Transportation to ensure that any concerns from the Glendale community are answered.”

The DOT assured that there will be workshops and other opportunities for the local community to provide feedback, according to a spokesperson.

Renz and the local business group proposed the plan, which has yet to be rendered. Renz could not be contacted as of press time.

Some locals are already imagining the space’s potential.

“As long as it would not disrupt the traffic in the area, I think it’s a great idea,” said resident Mark Potts.

Senator Joseph Addabbo also supports the plaza, calling it a “wonderful addition to this community,” in a letter to the DOT.

“An outdoor space seems like it would liven up the area, especially on nice days” said Vic Owens, a Ridgewood resident who frequents the neighborhood. “I’m for it.”

Community Board discusses hydrofracking, new gym


| dbeltran@queenscourier.com

There were several important issues brought up at Community Board (CB) 5’s first meeting of the new year, but none drew as much attention, or speakers, as the issue of hydrofracking.

In the process of hydrofracking water, sand and chemicals are shot into the ground to push out natural gases. One of the many problems, Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5, said, is that there is no filtering process to clean out contaminated water that comes back up. This increases the possibility of drinking water being contaminated, he said.

According to officials, no one knows what chemicals are going into the ground. Officials also pointed out earthquakes that were pin-pointed back to the area of the hydrofracking.

“There are numerous stories in other states where this process has backfired and contaminated drinking water,” said Giordano. “I just hope hydrofracking never happens in New York State.”

A public hearing was also held about whether to allow Retro Fitness to open a gym at 65-40 Otto Road in Glendale. One major issue was parking. While the owners of the gym said they could fit 70 parking spots and probably be able to build more, board members said they wanted that guaranteed in a lease. The owners also agreed to pay for a stop sign and maintenance of the property, as members said there is constant graffiti in the area.

Two board members then spoke about an abandoned factory in Glendale that is being torn apart. They claim that it has asbestos, preventing their families from being outside in their yards. According to the members, the owner works with no permits and even though the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has placed stop orders on the site, they continue to work.

“The Community Board has been involved in this since 2003. We protested the application for alteration,” said chair Vincent Arcuri. He added that test results from the DEP for asbestos came back negative.