Tag Archives: Eastern Queens United

Star of Queens: Frank Toner, president, Rocky Hill Civic Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Frank Toner

KATELYN DI SALVO

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Frank Toner is the president of Rocky Hill Civic Association (RHCA), a volunteer organization started  more than 80 years ago. Today it continues to work and enhance the quality of life for more than 1,000 households bounded by Braddock Avenue, Union Turnpike, Stronghurst Avenue and Winchester Boulevard.

BACKGROUND: Toner was born and raised in Middletown, N.Y. His family moved to Elmhurst when he was a teenager. Toner and his wife Margaret, a Bellerose native, married in 1973 at St. Gregory The Great and settled in the neighborhood.

Toner’s interest in the RHCA was piqued when he started receiving the association’s monthly bulletin.

“I was aware that this community organization existed, and I was a little curious,” Toner said.

But it wasn’t until he was playing basketball at a local school that he decided to sit in on a RHCA meeting that was being held in the same building.

“I saw that they were really devoted in helping the community, and from there I was committed,” Toner said.

He signed up to be a block captain, and dealt with the complaints of his neighbors and the distribution of bulletins on his block. Toner was asked to be on the board after impressing the association president with volunteer work and a 95 percent collection rate on dues. When the president stepped down in 2007, Toner took his place.

GOALS: A goal Toner has for the near future involves surveying the streets for potholes and notifying the city so they can be fixed. He also intends to lobby for long-removed greenery to be restored to the median on Winchester Boulevard.

Another key focus for Toner and the RHCA is participatory budgeting, where community members vote to decide how public money is spent.

“This is something we will soon be hearing a lot about,” Toner said. He said he is excited about being a part of this project and optimistic that it will lead to more involvement from people in the community. “This allows people to get money for any project they have. They just need the vote,” Toner said.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Toner’s fondest memory is participating in a coalition with a number of other civics associations in Queens, called Eastern Queens United.

This group consists of about 10 different civic groups that come together when there is a problem in communities.

“There is power in numbers, and this is a positive thing for the community,” Toner said. One of the projects that the RHCA has worked on with the help of Eastern Queens is enforcing the zoning rights in Toner’s community.

“It took all of us working together to rezone the area, and that was a big victory for us,” Toner said.

INSPIRATION: Toner said his biggest motivation is a belief in people and the community, saying, “I’ve always felt that real change comes from the community level.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Toner’s biggest challenge is outreach. “The ethnic make up in the neighborhood has changed, and I would like to see more diversity in the group,” he said.

 

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Op-ed: Seven-point plan


| oped@queenscourier.com

BOB FRIEDRICH AND EASTERN QUEENS UNITED

Last week, a convicted killer escaped from the state-run Creedmoor Psychiatric facility in Bellerose, where he was being held for observation.

This is a serious concern to the civic leaders of this community and other nearby community organizations.

Creedmoor is located in an area of single family homes and is very close to Glen Oaks Village, a co-op community of 10,000 residents. It is situated across the street from a children’s playground in Alley Pond Park, one of Queens’ largest parks.

The escape was also brazen for the ease in which it was accomplished. Exchanging clothes with a visiting friend was enough to allow a convicted killer to walk out undetected and into the neighborhood.

The stunning failure in security by the State Office of Mental Health has been a sore point with community leaders for many years.

The state has consistently failed to provide adequate funding to properly secure this large institution and as a result, numerous incidents have occurred which has put a strain on the already over-burdened local police precinct.

The time has come for real and serious action. Community leaders and local elected officials are calling for a full investigation and a security plan of action in which all stakeholders in the community must be involved.

Eastern Queens is a wonderful part of the city and is fortunate to have an active and vocal group of civic associations that seek to protect the quality of life of the communities they represent.

These civic associations represent thousands of folks that live along the tree-lined streets that surround Creedmoor. We are confident that elected officials, affected agencies and other community organizations will work together to resolve the security issues plaguing the Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital.

Responding to this breach in security at Creedmoor, a coalition of more than a dozen civic presidents have issued a seven-point plan of action, which you can read below:

1. A full investigation of this incident.

2. Adoption of a comprehensive security plan for the entire Creedmoor campus that would prevent a recurrence of a similar incident in the future.

3. NYS Office of Mental Health must provide the resources to fund a proper level of security.

4. Disclosure and transparency as to the type of individuals being housed at Creedmoor.

5. A Community Notification Protocol to provide immediate alerts of dangerous situations.

6. A similar review and assessment of security at nearby Zucker-Hillside Hospital.

7. The inclusion of nearby civic associations and other stakeholders in the outreach and development of a security plan.

 

Jerry Wind, president of the Bellerose Hillside Civic Association

Bobby Sher, president of the Bell Park-Manor Terrace Co-op

Michael O’Keeffe, president of the Creedmoor Civic Association

Bob Friedrich, president of the Glen Oaks Village Co-op

Michael Castellano, president of the Lost Community Civic Association

Bruno DeFranceschi, president of the North Bellerose Civic Association

Judith Cohen, president of the North Hills Estates Civic Association

Richard Hellenbrecht, president of the Queens Civic Congress

Angela Augugliaro, president of the Queens Colony Civic Association

Jim Trent, president of the Queens County Farm Museum

Mo Ishmael, president of the Queens Village Civic Association

Frank Toner, president of the Rocky Hill Civic Association

Rhonda Kontner, president of the Royal Ranch Homeowners Association

 

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Strong support for united districts in eastern Queens


| dbeltran@queenscourier.com

Civic leaders, city officials, and residents came to the Eastern Queens United rally recently in support of new district lines to keep eastern queens communities united and maintain a strong voice in politics.

Every 10 years after the census is complete, district lines must be re-drawn. Many residents and civic leaders said that because of the increased diversity, district lines should keep the community united in order to have a strong voice.

“Our collective power is diluted if we’re chopped up, our arguments are less relevant,” said Ali Namji, lawyer and resident of Glen Oaks village.

Several elected officials attended the rally on Thursday, January 12, including Assemblymember David Weprin, Councilmember Mark Weprin and Senator Tony Avella. They all said they were in support of keeping the community united.

“I will vote no,” said Avella. “It’s more important that the community stay together more than my own political aspirations. You have my support no matter what happens.”

Dianna Dalton, who lives on the Queens/Nassau border, said she has trouble proving she lives in New York City when calling for services and said she’s worried about possibly being redistricted into Nassau County.

“I was upset when I heard that. Nassau County isn’t going to care who we are or what we need. We want to stay with the neighborhoods that we border so we have some say in what we need,” Dalton said.

Those living well within eastern queens though are concerned about minority groups having a voice. Jamilla Uddin of the Alliance of South Asian American Labor organization, which works in collaboration with Eastern Queens United, said their main goal is to have a bigger voice for the Southeast Asian community. Uddin said that by having the community united, they will become a majority that can have an effect.

Although no district lines have been drawn up yet by legislators, Namji said that when they are, the people of eastern queens must show up.

“We have to continue to be united, we have to continue to come together. They’re compelled by law to have a hearing in every county with those draft maps. All of us have to be at that hearing. We have to be there in force.”

Eastern Queens joining together to be less divided


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Eastern Queens is uniting in a fight to make district lines dividing the community disappear.

A group of civic associations, local leaders and concerned residents from Glen Oaks, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Bellerose and Queens Village have joined forces to form Eastern Queens United, a coalition demanding their neighborhoods be rejoined in the same congressional and assembly districts.

“We need district lines that will unite us, not divide us,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village. “Regardless of color, nationality, religion or cultural identity, we all care about our families, our schools, our jobs, our safety and our community. This is the glue of commonality that keeps us together.”

Eastern Queens United is urging the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) to undo what the group calls the “gerrymandering” of the neighborhoods between Assembly Districts 24,26 and 33 and unite the area into a single district. The coalition also wants the division of the community between Congressional Districts 5 and 6 to be resolved. The neighborhoods are currently united in a single state Senate and city council district.

“We are a single ‘community of interest’ that needs to stay united in all legislative districts,” said Ali Najmi, an attorney, lead organizer and counsel to Eastern Queens United. “LATFOR must not divide us.”

To gather supporters for their cause, Eastern Queens United is planning a community meeting and rally in the near future.

The group argues that the dividing lines are detrimental to the community, separating residents and preventing them from improving the standard of living in the neighborhoods.

“For those of us on the front lines fighting for quality-of-life issues, reduced property taxes and other issues that affect us every day, we know how important these district lines are,” said Angela Augugliaro, president of Queens Colony Civic Association. “We have a unique community that can only have its interest served if we are united within the same legislative districts.”

LATFOR will make recommendations to the New York State Legislature regarding district lines early next year, after which its proposal must be voted upon and approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The neighborhoods were separated roughly 10 years ago, and Friedrich says if the group is unable to foster change, the communities will remain divided for another decade. “We want to make sure they don’t do to us what they did 10 years ago,” he said. “These lines were drawn for political considerations only, and not for what is best for the community. District lines run right through some communities, which is confusing and detrimental to the neighborhood. We will not accept district lines that slice and dice us as if we are on some legislative committee’s chopping block.”