Tag Archives: Councilmember Daniel Dromm

Jackson Heights pigeon poop a persistent problem


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

DSC_0031w

A Jackson Heights politician is fed-up with the foul fowl feces that shroud the face of the neighborhood’s premier subway station.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm says he is perturbed by the pigeon poop problem casting a shadow over the 74th Street station on Roosevelt Avenue, which hosts the No. 7, “E,” “F,” “R” and “M” trains.

“The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has neglected its legal responsibility to clean the pigeon poop,” said the councilmember, who called the MTA’s behavior a disgrace. “We have complained about it and they still haven’t come out to clean it. They promised they would [on] Monday, November 28, but they didn’t. This is a serious case of neglect and abuse of the Jackson Heights community. They have been a bad neighbor. One has to wonder why they continue to ignore Jackson Heights when it is one of the busiest stations in the whole transit system.”

According to an MTA spokesperson, the authority is aware of the problem and examining a variety of different solutions, including placing jagged spikes on the structure, making it less conducive for squatting.

“There is no way for us to place nets above the area, and we are limited in what we can do to solve the pigeon problem, but we do try and clean the area regularly,” said the spokesperson. “We do clean it, but the pigeons come right back. This is one of the difficult situations that we don’t have a solution to. From what I’ve heard it is pretty awful. It is disgusting, but we do have a pigeon problem throughout the city and we try different things in different place. We will just have to keep trying until we find a solution.”

The station receives regular cleaning every other week, including on the night of the December 6, according to the spokesperson.

Dromm claims his constituents have “continuously complained about the lack of maintenance to the 74th Street station,” including the pigeon excrements covering it, garbage left on the sidewalks in front of it and vacant stores surrounding it. The councilmember also plans to test the paint chipping away from the subway tracks above Roosevelt Avenue for dangerous chemicals.

Dromm, who says he has attempted to attain a regular maintenance schedule for years, to no avail, believes the MTA’s negligence has also hurt the community financially.

“The MTA is the biggest impediment to economic development in Jackson Heights, because that station is the entrance to the neighborhood,” he said. “You have vacant stores around a pigeon poop covered, paint peeling and garbage strewn subway station. People come out from the subway, and the first thing they want to do is turn around and go home. [The pigeon poop] makes the entrance to Jackson Heights undesirable.”

During the daily bustle of rush hour, some Jackson Heights residents admit they don’t bother to look up and perceive the problem.
“I’ve never even noticed it before,” said one resident as he hurried to work.

Others agree with Dromm and believe the station has become a blight on the community.

“This is the MTA’s property, and they should clean it up,” said David Barrionuevo, who uses the 74th Street station daily. “It shows they don’t care. They probably took a lot of money from the city to build this, so the least they can do is upkeep. The pigeon poop gives the station a gritty look, and if you look at some of the other stations, especially some of the bigger ones, they look nicer than this. This station is relatively new also, which means the MTA hasn’t been taking care of it at all. It looks like there is years’ worth of [feces] here.”

Relief as swastika graffitist captured


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Councilmember Daniel Dromm

Police believe they have halted the “hater” who recently defaced several buildings in northwest Queens.

Franco Rodriguez, a 40-year-old Hispanic male, was arrested on November 11 and charged with four counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime in connection with the spray painting of six swastikas in four locations across East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights on November 3.

Two swastikas were drawn on the facades of both the Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst branches of the Queens Library, and one was drawn on the doors of the Congregation Tifereth Israel and St. Joan of Arc Church in Jackson Heights.

A swastika was also drawn on the Jackson Heights Library on October 31, but police say Rodriguez, a resident of the neighborhood, is not being charged in connection to the incident.

“Our building has been vandalized numerous times in our long history, but the incidents seem to have been the work of teenage pranksters,” said Rabbi Ernest Mayerfeld, who has lived in Jackson Heights for over 50 years and has spent the last 12 years as Rabbi and spiritual leader with the Congregation Tifereth Israel of Jackson Heights.

“Included in our congregation are a number of Holocaust survivors who were reminded of their past, and spoke of their experiences to me. The basic reaction was, ‘Not again. Not in the U.S.’ My personal reaction was to be strong. We must react with dignity and strength and be unified with the overall community. I am glad the police apprehended the perpetrator.”

A rally in response to the vandalisms was held on November 4, during which elected officials and local leaders spoke out against the hate crimes and announced a $3,000 reward in connection to the capture of the criminal.

“I want to commend the NYPD for acting so swiftly and making an arrest in this case,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm, who led the rally. “It is important that we send a strong message that these types of hate crimes will not be tolerated in our community.”

A protest was also held on November 9 outside of the Jackson Heights Library, where roughly 200 faculty members and students from the Rambam Mesivta High School rallied to denounce the defacements. Student representatives from the school presented the library with five copies of the Holocaust Chronicle, a 768 page history of the Holocaust.

The vandalisms shocked many in the Jackson Heights community, who have grown accustomed to acceptance and understanding from the residents of one of the world’s most diverse neighborhoods.

“The vandalism was horrible, but it was an aberration in our community,” said Bill Meehan, 68, a Jackson Heights resident and board member of the Jackson Heights-Elmhurst Kehillah, a Jewish organization. “Our community is dedicated to diversity and to living together in peace and respect for one another. What we saw was the community rise up and condemn it and demand that the perpetrator be found and arrested. I was very happy that the NYPD was able to find him so quickly and hopefully it is the right person.”

Assembly held to bring Occupy Wall Street to Queens


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Whitey Flagg is aiming to “occupy” the attention of New York’s largest borough.

The 40-year-old Jackson Heights resident, who participated in Occupy Wall Street during the movement’s first month and was arrested while marching on the Brooklyn Bridge, is hoping to bring principles promoted at Zuccotti Park to Queens.

“After spending so much time there, I realized that the future of the movement was going to be when the general assembly started moving into people’s communities,” said Flagg, the founding member of Occupy Queens. “I decided my time was better spent helping start something here in Queens.”

To initiate the Occupy Queens movement, a general assembly was held on November 11 at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, located at 37-06 77th Street. More than 150 people attended the assembly to voice their concerns and opinions regarding the major issues facing the borough.

“I came here because I think that we need to get together and organize for jobs,” said Molly Charboneau, a resident of Sunnyside. “The unemployment rate is too high and we’ve lost too many jobs. In Queens in particular, we have had so many closings and layoffs. We need to band together and fight this. I hope this will put regular people in touch with one another because we are the ones that really have the power. It’s the everyday people who have to organize together and fight back.”

Among the topics discussed at the meeting were housing foreclosures in Queens, prejudice against immigrants, the lack of open spaces in Jackson Heights and public transportation issues in the borough.

During the assembly, a teacher addressed the failures of the public school system.

“I’m tired of seeing our kids falling through the cracks,” he said. “I have kids who can barely read the words ‘the’ and ‘that.’”

In order to facilitate widespread change, the movement organizes working groups, which each tackle specific issues. Any person can start a working group to address a subject they deem important.

The next general assembly will be held on November 18 at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights. Flagg is hoping the movement will spread across Queens and adopt the personalities of each of the borough’s unique communities.

“This is really about the frame of mind that people should be involved in their democracy again,” he said. “Every general assembly will be different, and people are supposed to alter it for their community. It is not about any particular topics. It is about what each community is interested in and what each community wants to change about their environment. I hope people get involved, start to realize that their voices do matter, and if they come together, they can make a change. We want to facilitate change.

Reward offered for swastika perp


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Councilmember Daniel Dromm

The neighboring communities of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst are battling back against a string of hate crimes that recently rocked the region’s residents.

Beginning the night of November 2 and extending into the early hours of November 3, swastikas were drawn at three locations across the area — on the facades of the Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst branches of the Queens Library and on the door of the Congregation Tifereth Israel of Jackson Heights.

“A swastika should not be anywhere in public,” said Lana M., a Jackson Heights resident, who is Jewish on her mother’s side. “We need to spread peace, not hate. We want to enjoy life and we don’t want to be hated by anyone. You have to respect everyone’s religion. We have to make sure this doesn’t spread. We have to get the community together to wipe it out.”

A rally in response to the vandalisms was held on November 4, during which elected officials and local leaders spoke out against hate crimes.

“We stand here today to say no to hate,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “We stand here today to say no to fear. We stand here today to say that hate and fear have no place in our community. We stand here today to say to those that committed these heinous crimes – you will be found, you will be prosecuted and you will not intimidate us. We will defeat you and your ugly ideas. We stand here today to fight back. We stand here today as Jackson Heights, a beautiful, diverse community of compassion, tolerance and understanding.”

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is currently investigating the incidents, which are believed to be related.

Dromm announced at the rally that he has raised a $3,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to the capture of the perpetrator, consisting of $500 contributions from Borough President Helen Marshall, Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblymember Michael DenDekker, Assemblymember Francisco Moya, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras and Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.

“I represent one of the most diverse districts in the country,” said Moya. “I take great pride in our diversity and the respect and understanding our community has for every resident’s different heritage. It is critical that we come together as a community and denounce the recent hate crimes that have occurred. We must also help our local police precinct in whatever way possible to lead to the arrest of the individuals that committed these cowardly attacks.”
Leaders urge anyone with information regarding these sincidents to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.