Tag Archives: Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association

Precinct helps ease parking problem outside Fresh Meadows school


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Police have stepped in to ease a daily parking problem outside a Fresh Meadows school that has frustrated parents and put students at risk for at least a year.

Parents dropping off their kids at P.S. 173 have been double parking and blocking the school bus stop during the morning rush about 8 a.m., residents said.

“Sometimes they’ll let the kids out in the middle of the street and have the kids run across to get into school,” said Jim Gallagher Jr., president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

At times, students are also left stranded in the middle of the road until traffic clears, said former PTA President Alan Ong.

The “No Standing” street on 67th Avenue gets backed up with at least 15 cars at a time, according to Gallagher.

Short-tempered parents have cursed and threatened volunteer parents who try to move traffic along, residents said.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” said John Callari, a nearby resident. “I almost got run over one morning when my wife and I were taking our grandchildren to school.”

Two traffic safety cops at the 107th Precinct have been easing congestion at the school for about half an hour every day, for the last two weeks.

They will continue “as long as resources are there,” a community affairs officer at the precinct said.

Summonses have been issued to illegally parked drivers in the past, but the precinct wants their main goal to be making sure parents understand the danger.

“We’re trying to work with everybody to educate motorists,” the officer said. “Keeping the kids safe is always the priority.”

The school has more than 900 students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, said Ong, who is now a member of Community District Education Council 26.

The Department of Education did not comment.

“Many other schools in the city are experiencing the same problem,” Ong said. “We need to somehow, someway bring awareness to parents. The last thing we want is an accident.”

 

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Star of Queens: Alan Ong, board of directors, Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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COMMUNITY SERVICE: Alan Ong has been active in the Queens community for years, serving as the PTA president for P.S. 173 before being appointed by Borough President Helen Marshall to the District 26 Community Education Council.

“Even though I stepped down as PTA president, now I can try to effect things on a district level,” said Ong, who also serves on the board of directors for the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

Ong said that he was very active in the PTA, doing a lot of outreach and safety awareness work for parents and students alike.

At the head of the Homeowners Civic Association, Ong said he has worked hard to “maintain the quality of life within the neighborhood, like [fixing] potholes in the street. We also work with the local precinct to make sure everything is safe for the residents.”

BACKGROUND: Ong was born in Manhattan and spent his early years in Chinatown.

“I moved to Queens when I was a teen and have been living here ever since,” he said.

He attended the City College of New York and now lives in Fresh Meadows.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Ong recalls his time with the P.S. 173 PTA as one of his best memories.

“The reaction of the parents was very rewarding,” he said. “A lot of us work, and sometimes we don’t spend as much time with our children as we should. My aim was to get parents involved.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “The greatest obstacle I face is getting people to speak up,” Ong explained. “It’s difficult to tackle issues when you don’t know what they are. I have to inspire people to step up and tell us what’s going on.”

INSPIRATION: “One of the main reasons why I do this is because I’m Americanborn Chinese, and in the community of Chinese culture, people don’t step up and help others as much. I do this community work because I feel there’s a need for that. Hopefully what I’m doing will help others to do the same.”

LUKE TABET

 

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Pols push for sewer upgrades as Queens homes take on water


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jim Gallagher

An outdated sewer system is leaving large swathes of Queens vulnerable to serious flooding, according to a pair of elected officials.

“Year after year, Queens residents have been fighting the trauma and financial burden of flood damage to their homes and lives,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic. “We cannot continue to let our working families weather the storm alone.”

For decades, poor infrastructure in Fresh Meadows has caused basements and garages to flood with sewage during heavy rainstorms, local leaders said.

“If we have a torrential downpour, all the water gets backed up,” said Jim Gallagher, president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

He added that sewer pipes in the neighborhood can only handle about an inch and a half of water per hour. Any more rainfall causes water to pour into homes.

The problem also extends to Glendale, where rainy weather shut down the flood-prone Cooper Avenue underpass last weekend.

The closure between 74th Street and 69th Road was due to “construction and the anticipation of flooding,” according to city alerts. It lasted from Friday afternoon to Saturday night.

Last August, three residents were caught in a deluge there. Cars were submerged under several feet of water and emergency responders had to rescue the trio.

A spokesperson for Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plans to add new catch basins to the underpass, but the department has not committed to major infrastructure improvements.

Thousands in southeast Queens say they have also been suffering from mold spores and flooding since the city took over the water supply in 1996.

According to DEP spokesperson Christopher Gilbride, the city has “invested hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading the sewer system in Queens” over the last decade and will continue to make improvements.

But Rozic and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio last week said they wanted the department to speed up the sewers upgrades and reexamine reimbursement policies for homeowners until then.

“Put simply, severe weather is the new normal,” they wrote in a joint letter to DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland.

The pair urged the department to make flood-prone neighborhoods a priority in capital plans and expedite short-term flood mitigation measures like street landscaping to reduce storm runoff.

“After the wake-up call Sandy delivered, there’s just no excuse for inaction,” de Blasio said. “We can’t keep leaving families high and dry.”

Yolanda Gallagher of Fresh Meadows shows how high flood levels reached in Utopia Parkway homes after a storm last August.

 

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Star of Queens: Yolanda Delacruz Gallagher, 25th District Leader and community activist


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY ADJANI SHAH

Community Involvement: Yolanda Delacruz Gallagher is the 25th District Leader in Queens. She has also been a board member on the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association for over 15 years and a member of the Holy Family Parish Church. As an active community member, Gallagher tackles issues such as graffiti, broken street lights, storm damage and helps schools by giving students incentives to achieve their academic best.

Background: Gallagher is originally from the Philippines. She came to New York in 1991. She graduated from DeSales University with an MBA in business administration and used to work as a banker. She’s been married to James Gallagher for 18 years. They are both active members in the Fresh Meadows community.

Inspiration: Gallagher said her inspiration is her husband. He introduced her to community involvement. They both roam the community to see what could be fixed or improved. “It comes from the heart,” she said. “It comes from loving the community.”

Biggest Challenge: Gallagher said her biggest challenge is trying to please everyone and reaching goals without affecting the politics of the situation.

DOB puts kibosh on 12-story hotel in Fresh Meadows


| Phertling@queenscourier.com

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A plan to build a hotel in Fresh Meadows was turned down by the city after the developer failed to comply with the building code and zoning regulations, officials said.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) on July 31 rejected Mayflower Business Group’s proposal to put up a 12-story lodging house at 61-27 186th Street for a number of reasons, an agency spokesperson said.

The proposed hotel exceeded the maximum allowed floor-area ratio for the lot and also provided fewer than the required number of parking spaces, said the spokesperson.

Now the developer has 12 months to revise the plan and resubmit an application for the empty lot, where three homes once stood.

In the meantime, the bid has stirred up some controversy with nearby residents unsure of what the future will bring.

“There is no need for a hotel at that location,” said Jim Gallagher, president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association. “We’re not close to the airport. Where is the need for a 12-story hotel with 135 units?”

The same is being asked by most people living in the area, who have also voiced their complaints with Gallagher.

“The hotel would block out the sunlight,” said Christopher Chee, who has lived across the lot for 17 years. “There is no reason for this.”

Chee, 57, believes a hotel would add chaos to a street already congested by vehicles. He remembers at least three instances where his property was ruined due to drivers making U-turns on his block.

David Fung, 25, also sees a potential disaster in the making.

“I have a hard time backing out my car,” said Fung. “It’s a very, very narrow street.”

Gallagher hopes to negotiate soon with the developers, who were unable to be contacted for a response. His goal, he said, is to keep the area a residential community for the future.

“This is a place where people raise families,” Gallagher said. “And we’re very proud of it.”