Tag Archives: Glen Oaks Village

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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Co-op owners still fighting for FEMA money months after Sandy


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Newly proposed legislation aims to make co-op and condo associations eligible for federal storm recovery grants.

“A storm does not discriminate where it hits, and FEMA should not be discriminating what type of homeowners it helps,” said Congressmember Steve Israel, who penned the bill.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced in March it would allow co-ops and condos to receive funding from Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery assistance to help with repairs.

But leaders and local co-op presidents said the fix was just temporary.

Co-op and condo owners currently cannot receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Sandy-inflicted damages because they are categorized as “business associations.” The title makes them eligible for federal loans, but not grants.

The Stafford Act, which governs how FEMA responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, Israel said. But there is no statute that bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.

“It seems clear that FEMA’s policy is the result of not understanding the role of co-ops and condos in our community,” Israel said. “I am introducing this legislation to allow co-op and condo associations to apply for federal grants from FEMA so we can right this wrong and ensure that these homeowners are eligible to receive the vital assistance they deserve.”

Some Queens co-ops suffered $1 million in damages, including Cryder Point Co-ops, a waterfront community which has to repair its pier.

Glen Oaks Village sustained more than $250,000 in infrastructural damage, according to the co-op’s president Bob Friedrich.

“To deny co-ops the ability to obtain FEMA grant money simply because of the type of housing choices their residents have made is shameful and should not have taken this legislation to correct it,” Friedrich said.

The cost for repairs have fallen “squarely upon the shoulders of middle class owners,” said Warren Schreiber, co-president of Presidents Co-op & Condo Council.

New Yorkers are eligible to receive about $3.5 billion of the total $5.4 billion allocated by HUD earlier this year.

However, leaders said co-op and condo owners will have to battle it out with other retail developments, towns, villages and cities for the competitive grants used to repair common areas in the building like lobbies, boilers and elevators.

The proposed law, slated to be introduced in Congress soon, would better define housing co-ops and condos in the Stafford Act. It would also call for the rulemaking process to determine a new cap on FEMA’s Individual and Households Program.

 

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HUD grants not enough say co-op, condo owners


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Co-ops and condos damaged by Sandy are now eligible for federal housing grants.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it will allow co-ops and condos to receive funding from Community Development Block Grants Disaster Recovery grants to help with repairs.

“We have finally cleared a bureaucratic hurdle that prevented thousands of homeowners in New York City and Long Island from getting the help they needed,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “We have always said that condos and co-ops should be eligible for the same assistance as single family homes, and now they are.”

But leaders and local co-op presidents said the fix is just a temporary one. The root of the problem, they said, is still not addressed.

“This is a good first step. There’s no question about it. But it’s a band-aid fix,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village Owners. “This still discriminates against families of co-op apartments.”

Co-op and condo owners currently cannot receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Sandy-inflicted damages because they are categorized as “business associations.” The title makes them eligible for federal loans but not grants.

The Stafford Act, which governs how FEMA responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, according to Congressmember Steve Israel. But there is no statute that purposefully bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.

“What we need is a permanent fix to how FEMA classifies co-ops and condos,” Israel said. “This is an interim solution that allows co-ops to access certain federal grants. But until FEMA changes the definition of co-ops, disaster assistance won’t be a sure thing.”

Co-op and condo owners will now have to battle it out with other retail developments, towns, villages and cities for the competitive grant, leaders said.

HUD allocated $5.4 billion to the recovery program last month. New Yorkers are eligible to receive about $3.5 billion of that total. The funds can be used to repair common areas in the building like lobbies, boilers and elevators.

Some Queens co-ops suffered $1 million in damages, including Cryder Point Co-ops, a waterfront community which has to repair its pier.

More than half of the total buildings in Glen Oaks Village endured “moderate to severe shingle loss,” Friedrich said. The co-op will have to shell out close to $300,000 for infrastructural damage.

 

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Schumer pushes for co-op, condo Sandy relief


| mchan@queenscourier.com

New York’s senior senator has joined the ranks of leaders pushing for relief to storm-damaged co-ops and condos.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last Wednesday asking the agency to establish Sandy relief program guidelines for co-ops and condos.

Co-op and condo owners currently cannot receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Sandy-inflicted damages because they are categorized as “business associations,” according to elected federal officials. The title makes them eligible for federal loans but not grants.

“After Sandy, FEMA was able to help many communities. However, due to inflexible bureaucratic rules, co-op and condo homeowners were left in the wake,” Schumer said.

The Stafford Act, which governs how FEMA responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, according to Congressmember Steve Israel. But there is no statute that purposefully bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.

Schumer called on HUD officials to use Community Development Block Grants Disaster Recovery funds to help co-op and condo owners repair and rebuild.

HUD allocated $5.4 billion to the recovery program early last week. New Yorkers are eligible to receive about $3.5 billion of that total.

Some Queens co-ops suffered $1 million in damages, including Cryder Point Co-ops, a waterfront community which has to repair its shambled pier.

More than half of the total buildings in Glen Oaks Village endured “moderate to severe shingle loss,” according to Bob Friedrich, the co-op’s president. The co-op will have to shell out $250,000 for infrastructural damage.

And nearly 3,000 Mitchell-Lama co-ops in the Rockaways are forced to shoulder repair costs, said Dolores Orr, co-op owner and president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association.

“It is astonishing to me that residential co-op buildings are not being afforded any financial assistance in the recovery from Sandy,” she said. “We are homeowners just like those who live in … family houses.”

 

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$17M facelift for Glen Oaks library


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Public Library

A $17 million facelift will soon bring chic changes to a Glen Oaks library, officials said.

A sweeping interior staircase, a sky-lit reading lounge and a partially transparent exterior are some of the modern designs being built at the 255-01 Union Turnpike site of the Glen Oaks branch of the Queens Library.

“We’re very excited about it,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village. “It’s a really beautifully designed library, as opposed to the old one that had more of a concrete box-like structure with very few windows.”

Officials said the library, built in 1956, was becoming too small for the growing Glen Oaks population. Renovations will nearly double the size of the library to 18,000-square-feet and include many new customer service features along its three levels, including more computer workstations, separate areas for adults, teens and children, and an outdoor reading space.

“I think this library will attract a lot more people,” Friedrich said. “The community really needs it. We have a lot of seniors in Glen Oaks who love sitting outside to read.”

The new library is slated to open later this spring, officials said. Bookworms can visit the library’s temporary space across the street until construction is completed.

“This state-of-the-art library will be a terrific asset for the community,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin, who helped fund the improvement project with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

 

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Law keeps co-op owners from receiving federal storm recovery grants


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A glitch in the law is keeping co-op owners from receiving federal storm recovery grants, officials said.

According to Congressmember Steve Israel, co-ops are shouldering the costs of repair for Sandy-inflicted damages because they are categorized as “business associations,” making them ineligible for federal grants — only loans.

The Stafford Act, which governs how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, Israel said. But there is no statute that purposefully bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.

“FEMA is taking an overzealous interpretation to this,” said Israel. “It discriminates against co-op owners. It’s one thing to be devastated by a hurricane. It’s another to be devastated by a loophole.”

Cryder Point Co-ops suffered $1 million in damage that left their waterfront community’s pier in shambles, said Phil Resnick, vice president of the co-op’s board of directors.

More than half of the total buildings in Glen Oaks Village endured “moderate to severe shingle loss,” leading to $250,000 in infrastructural damages, said Bob Friedrich, the co-op’s president. The unbudgeted costs also include the removal of downed trees.

“Housing co-ops are not business associations. We do not generate income based on corporate or private profit,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “Many middle-class shareholders who are already experiencing financial difficulties will not be able to absorb the additional charges.”

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Tree maintenance at root of problem


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Bob Friedrich

If a tree falls in Glen Oaks Village, and no one assumes responsibility for clearing it, does it cause damage?

Homeowners in the eastern Queens co-op are irritated over what they feel is a lack of effort by the city to clear dangerous tree roots and repair damaged sidewalks.

Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village, the largest garden apartment co-op in New York, demands the city take action.

New legislation, initiated by Friedrich and reinforced by Senator Tony Avella, would modify the current law that forbids residents from pruning street trees — ones located between the sidewalk and the road — holding the city responsible for damage done within co-ops by falling branches.

According to Friedrich, Hurricane Irene incurred over $59,000 in damages to Glen Oaks Village, ripping out roughly 100 trees and flooding several residents’ basements.

Since the storm, Friedrich said he has asked the city to remove the visible stumps and turned-up roots – something they promised to do within 90 days of the hurricane, according to Friedrich. He says the city has yet to take action.

“I refer to this area as ‘Queens, the forgotten borough,’” said Friedrich. “If you drive through Manhattan, you see all the resources they have. Bike lanes and trees. We can’t even get our curbs repaired. The city is inattentive to the needs of people in Queens.”

According to Friedrich, the city is accountable for repairing sidewalks damaged by trees during storms when it occurs in front of a single-family home. Friedrich feels this is an “issue of fairness and equality,” as according to him, residents of co-ops are responsible for paying higher taxes.

“The city has been doing an abysmal job and we’re really fed up,” said Friedrich. “We need them to step up to the plate.”

Friedrich added that many of Glen Oaks Village’s residents are senior citizens, vulnerable to falls and at risk of tripping over lifted tree roots.

According to a representative from the Department of Parks and Recreation, the city removes hanging limbs, dead trees and tree debris located on public property, including public sidewalks.

While property owners are responsible for sidewalk maintenance, owner-occupied, one-, two-, and three-family homes with sidewalks affected by the roots of curbside trees are eligible for free repair under the Parks Department’s Trees and Sidewalks program.

Since the program began in 2005, more than $18 million has been allocated to fixing over 9,200 trees and sidewalks throughout the city, including nearly $9 million to repairing damages in Queens.

 

In praise of Dolan


| editorial@queenscourier.com

I would like to praise Pope Benedict XVI for elevating Archbishop Timothy Dolan to Cardinal. I feel Dolan truly is a priest who has served the people. He has been outspoken on important issues like same-sex marriage, abortion, Catholic education and family values. He has not been afraid to speak his mind, communicates from his heart and has possessed the common touch. He feels deeply for the poor and the sick. He has a voice that he has used well to defend and promote the priniciples of the church, and he will be stronger still as a Cardinal.

As a Catholic and a Grand Knight of St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus in Douglaston, I feel this is a very proud moment for many New Yorkers. I firmly believe Dolan can make a profound difference on the Catholic church in America and the world. May God bless you Dolan, and bless you in your work as Cardinal.

 

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.

Glen Oaks Village, N.Y.