Tag Archives: Community Board 9

Woodhaven opposed to redistricting, traffic changes


| ecamhi@queenscourier.com

Woodhaven residents continued to show solidarity against recent rezoning and redistricting issues within their community.

During the Woodhaven Residents Block Association’s (WRBA) monthly town hall meeting, Ed Wendell, president of the civic group, urged residents to attend Community Board 9’s (CB 9) upcoming meeting to vote on the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) much criticized traffic change proposal.

The proposal, which Wendell said most residents oppose, would convert 89th Avenue to a one way street while changing 84th Street from a one-way northbound to a one-way southbound street between Liberty and Atlantic avenues.

CB 9 was slated to vote on the proposals during a public hearing on February 14 in Kew Gardens, but they postponed it due to complaints from the community about the meeting’s “inconvenient” date and time. They will now be meeting on March 13 to vote at the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps, located at 78-15 Jamaica Avenue.

Meanwhile, Maria Thomson, WRBA financial secretary, asked residents to voice their opposition to recent redistricting plans drafted by Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR). She said the plans would unfavorably split one square mile of Woodhaven amongst three separate Senate districts.

“This is a very, very big deal,” Thomson said. “We don’t want to be sliced and diced. It weakens our strength at the state level.”

Thomson and Assemblymember Mike Miller advised residents who attended the February 18 meeting to act with urgency in voicing their opposition to the redistricting plans.

“You don’t have much time to do it,” Miller said. “The vote is at the end of the month.”

Woodhaven street changes face roadblock


| mchan@queenscourier.com

While the city’s plan to change the direction of two streets in Woodhaven is still on the table, major feelings of opposition within the community have not been rerouted.

Residents remain angry at the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plans to convert 84th Street from one-way northbound to one-way southbound from Liberty to Atlantic Avenues and turn 89th Avenue from a two-way to a one-way street running eastbound between Woodhaven Boulevard and 97th Street.

However, at a public hearing held on February 1, agency officials told locals that the community will ultimately make the final decision on whether or not to implement the changes.

“Neither one of these proposals is mandated to improve because it is a high-accident location, so this can be voted up or down by the community,” said Maura McCarthy, DOT borough commissioner. “The DOT is not going to implement this over the objection of the community. We only do that if it’s a big safety problem. Neither of these locations are accident-prone locations, so this is really up to a community vote.”

According to the DOT, the request to convert 89th Avenue to a one-way operation came from Community Board 9 (CB 9) in 2008 due to the narrow roadway width — coupled with parking on both sides — while the westbound direction was recommended to foster the safe curbside drop-off of students.

“The DOT receives a lot of requests for traffic changes, whether it is adding a stop sign, traffic signal or changing street directions,” McCarthy said, “We take each request, analyze the request and then bring it before the community board to have a vote.”

Still, local leaders said the changes would severely inconvenience residents traveling back and forth between Woodhaven and Ozone Park. It would also cause some residents to be forced to go “at least six blocks out of their way” to get home.

“I think we’ve done everything we can to make sure our opposition is well known. I really don’t know what else we could do. We’re not going to lie down on the street,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA), who said he left the meeting feeling positive and productive.

CB 9 was slated to vote on the proposals during a public hearing on February 14 in Kew Gardens, though they recently postponed it due to complaints from the community about the meeting’s “inconvenient” date and time. They will now be meeting on March 13 to vote in Woodhaven.

“Every board member will vote how they feel is appropriate. We do whatever the community wants us to do because it’s their request, but half of the people are for it and half of the people are against it,” said Andrea Crawford, chair of CB 9. “It’s really up to the people who are directly affected.”

Residents opposed to Woodhaven street changes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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The city’s plan to change the direction of two streets in Woodhaven is heading down a one-way road to opposition.

While the project is only in its proposal stage, plans to convert 84th Street from one-way northbound to one-way southbound from Liberty to Atlantic Avenues and turn 89th Avenue from a two-way to a one-way street running eastbound between Woodhaven Boulevard and 97th Street have been met with resistance from residents and local civic groups.

“Both of these changes are not good for the community. They weren’t asked for by residents,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA). “It doesn’t make very much sense, and it’s a bad change.”

Wendell said if the changes are implemented, the “symbiotic” relationship between Woodhaven and its adjacent neighborhood — Ozone Park — would suffer by the newfound difficulty that would come from traveling back and forth.

He said the 84th Street alteration would eliminate one of the main northbound entry points into Woodhaven, leaving only Woodhaven Boulevard and 76th Street as northbound roads that cross Atlantic Avenue.

“It’s like the doors of a supermarket — with the entrance and exit doors next to each other. If you close one of those doors, it’s going to cause problems. This cuts off one of the valuable entrances back into Woodhaven from Ozone Park. This is going to hurt both communities.”

Wendell also said turning 89th Avenue into a one-way street would severely inconvenience residents — some of whom would be forced to go “at least six blocks out of their way” to get home.

“In order to get home, the only way they can do it is to make this really awkward turn on Jamaica Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, which is congested already,” Wendell said. “That’s the move this is going to force all these people to make. These residents are not going to have a choice. It’s going to be the only way to get home.”

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the request to convert 89th Avenue to a one-way operation came from Community Board 9 (CB 9) in 2008 due to the narrow roadway width, coupled with parking on both sides. The westbound direction was recommended to foster the safe curbside drop-off of students, a DOT spokesperson said.

CB 9 has yet to vote on the proposal, according to District Manager Mary Ann Carey, due to “so much controversy” revolving around the issue. The board postponed the original meeting to vote on the plans in order to seek more input from the community, although Carey said CB 9 sent out notices to residents back in 2008 when she said the plans were first proposed.

“There are so many different opinions. There are a few who are for it, but there are so very many who spoke in opposition of it. CB 9 more than likely goes with the community, but when the community is divided, it’s hard to decide,” Carey said.

The proposals will be voted on during a public hearing scheduled for February 1 at 7 p.m. at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Ozone Park.

Carey said that although feedback from the community board carries a lot of weight, the city Department of Transportation (DOT) will make the final call.

Resisting rezoning Richmond Hill


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Ed Wendell.

While some local leaders laud the city’s plan to rezone Richmond Hill and Woodhaven, one local business organization said it would negatively impact and cap the growth of the community.

According to a spokesperson for the Department of City Planning, plans to rezone stem from concerns raised by Community Board 9, local civic organizations and area elected officials who say that existing zoning — which has remained unchanged since 1961 — does not closely reflect established building patterns or guide new development to appropriate locations.

Therefore, the Department of City Planning is looking to rezone 231 blocks of Richmond Hill and Woodhaven to reinforce the predominant one- and two-family homes that are characteristic of the community, while redirecting new residential and mixed-use development opportunities to locations along the area’s main commercial corridors near mass transit resources.

“The whole idea of rezoning is to keep neighborhoods stable, safe and healthy,” said Andrea Crawford, chair of Community Board 9. “It’s about maintaining the character of the neighborhood. If you start to tear down the single family and two family homes to put up larger, multiple dwellings, the infrastructure can’t support it, and the school system can’t support it. It makes the area so overly-dense that the neighborhood spills out onto itself. It explodes at the seams.”

The plan also deters expansion in a neighborhood that already struggles with lack of space and overcrowding, said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA).

“Through a residential point of view, expansion takes away parking, and it cripples our services, crowds our schools, and creates more garbage and noise,” he said. “You do not want areas currently zoned for two-family homes to suddenly spring up with large apartment buildings. That’s a no-brainer.”

Wendell said many of the neighborhood’s problems frequently get tied back to overcrowding, including increased noise, fights, garbage and lack of parking.

“We are absolutely in favor of anything that would help cut down on overcrowding,” he said.

Still, Vishnu Mahadeo, president of the Richmond Hill Economic Development Council, said the plan would limit the capacity to build in the neighborhood — subsequently keeping families from growing.

“The community keeps expanding,” he said. “How can you reduce the capacity of the community? The community board needs to review the census data and make it relevant to the zoning.”

Mahadeo said he has a petition with over 2,000 signatures from residents who do not want to be “down-zoned.”

But Crawford said “it’s not down-zoning anything.”

“It’s zoning to correct the neighborhood,” she said, adding that the majority of people against the plan are landlords looking to tear down homes to put up large apartment complexes. “There are many people who live here and support it. They bought into a neighborhood, and they wanted a specific style of the neighborhood. We’re not saying don’t allow for larger structures. We’re saying it has to be sensible, and this does reflect what is necessary and what is allowable.”

The Department of City Planning is currently conducting community outreach meetings on a proposal prior to initiating the formal public review process, which can take up to seven months. The city agency will speak to residents on January 21 at WRBA’s monthly meeting.