Tag Archives: Robert Holden

CB 5 committee considers stricter liquor license rules


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Bar and club owners seeking liquor licenses in Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village may soon need to show Community Board 5 more than just their business credentials.

Members of the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Public Safety Committee met Monday and considered a proposal that would require new applicants to complete a written form stating their intentions with regard to their businesses.

Christina Wilkinson, an active member of the COMET (Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together) and the Juniper Park Civic (JPCA) associations, proposed the idea to the committee. This measure was introduced in response to the recent influx of bars, pubs and nightspots to Ridgewood and Bushwick.

According to Wilkinson, community boards 1 and 4 in Brooklyn have already adopted this practice in response to the rapid growth and popularity of their respective neighborhoods.

“At one point, Greenpoint was in the same boat that we’re in. They didn’t think it was going to be all that bad, and it got bad,” Wilkinson said. “I think we should be better prepared. Let’s learn from them. It’s working for them.”

Public Safety Committee Chair Robert Holden expressed support for the idea and asked District Manager Gary Giordano to discuss the issue with the Executive Committee. “We’re just trying to get more information,” he explained.

Newly appointed board member Alex Maureau agreed. “It’s also a good way for the local owners to get to know us, and vice versa,” he said.

Giordano voiced support for a shorter version of the written form. “I think it has a lot of merit,” he said. “We could certainly work out something.”

According to Giordano, the board can grant recommendations for or against liquor licenses. The board also notifies the 104th Precinct and Lt. George Hellmer, the precinct’s special operations coordinator, of establishments with a prior history of problems. The precinct, in turn, will notify the board of any prior arrests, summonses or felonies committed at establishments seeking licensing.

“I never want to be in a position to be okaying liquor licenses,” Giordano said. “In some cases, we have taken votes at community board meetings related to certain establishments that have been a problem. But we comment to the negative and I would prefer it that way.”

Under the current policy, prospective bar owners seeking liquor licenses must notify CB 5 30 days prior to applying for licensing from the State Liquor Authority.

Holden proposed that the extra form, if approved of by the Executive Board, be made available to bar owners as a PDF document on the board’s website. The agreement would be signed and submitted to the community board prior to seeking State Liquor Authority licensing.

P.O. Charles Sadler of the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit explained that he has adopted a “proactive instead of reactive” approach to new nightlife in the area. He said that he had personally visited five of Ridgewood’s newest bars, including The Monk and Onderdonk and Sons, in an effort to reach out to local bar owners.

Owners of each of the five establishments met with Sadler and other officers at a recent nightlife meeting hosted by the precinct. According to Sadler, all of the new bar owners and managers were made aware of the precinct’s regulations and guidelines, and all pledged respect and compliance.

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Juniper Valley Park has second most playground injury claims in city: report


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village has cost taxpayers at least about $300,000 over the last decade due to personal injuries claims, according to a new report.

The green space tied for second place for playground-related personal injury claims filed against the city from 2005 to 2014, which cost more than $20.6 million citywide, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said.

Stringer’s analysis also found that annual claims in the city rose 53 percent from just 45 incidents in 2005 to 69 last year.

Of the 577 park- and playground-related injury claims over the decade, 111 accidents occurred in Queens. Brooklyn led the city in playground injuries with 209 accidents occurring in the last decade.

Juniper Valley Park had six injury claims filed against the city over the decade for accidents related to missing matting, holes and defective swings. Five of those claims recorded a combined $297,500, according to Stringer’s analysis. The amount of one was not given in the report.

Local residents say Juniper has a numerous issues, including holes, defective equipment, cracks and other trip hazards, and that the Parks Department neglects to take action and fix the park, even though problems have been reported.

For example, Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, emphasized the need to fix netting at the park’s batting cages, where high school children play. The netting is used to protect balls from being hit outside the field area, but has been broken since Hurricane Sandy.

Holden has complained about it for years but still hasn’t seen a fix.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the lawsuits were with somebody getting hit with a ball,” Holden said. “Perhaps if it were their own money, like let’s say it would come out of department leaders’ paychecks, they would fix it.”

The park is receiving $2.5 million, allocated by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, for improvements to the track, but Holden said the fixes have been long overdue.

Citywide, parks have recorded injury claims for a range of problems, include protruding nails, debris, defective park equipment and improper surfacing — including cracked grounds, holes and missing matting.

In an attempt to reduce the city’s bill over the next 10 years and protect children, Stringer sent a letter to the Parks Department asking to increase efforts to make certain that parks are safe.

“With claims at their highest point in a decade, it’s clear that the Department of Parks and Recreation must find ways to improve safety in our city’s playgrounds,” Stringer said. “We owe it to our kids to adopt best practices for safety and install state-of-the-art equipment in our playgrounds that reduces the potential for injuries.”

Click here to see a full map of all the claims.

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Middle Village 110 year old is an ‘inspiration’


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Robert Holden

In the mid 90s, the Juniper Park Civic Association organized a Saturday morning cleanup of the Eliot Avenue Bridge. The volunteers arrived early that morning, only to find the area nearly immaculate. It was cleaned by one man, a man in his mid 90s, Carl Berner.

And since that day approximately 15 years ago the now 110 year old has hardly slowed down.

Carl Berner was born in Stuttgart, Germany, on January 27, 1902. After his parents died of tuberculosis, he split time between France and Germany. In 1928, he immigrated to the United States where he found work as the night building superintendent at the Chrysler Building in Manhattan for five years before opening his own toy-making business.

Berner moved to Middle Village with his wife Margaret in 1938; they purchased their home for $5,190 — which carried monthly mortgage payments of approximately $40. Upon arriving in Queens, the couple joined the Eliot Avenue Civic Association, which in 1942 merged with the Residents of Juniper Park Homes to become the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“[Berner] was a link to our past,” said Robert Holden, president of Juniper Park Civic. “He would tell me about past clashes the civic would have and battles we fought.”

Berner is among the oldest residents of New York City, and believed to be among the oldest in the country. The supercentenarian still lives in the home he bought 74 years ago with his daughter Emily.

Following cleaning up the Eliot Avenue Bridge, Berner adopted several locations in the area that he would visit with a shopping cart, some bags and a shovel to beautify.

These efforts, along with a lifetime of service in the community, earned him a Partner in a Cleaner New York Certificate of Appreciation from the Department of Sanitation and a Presidential Service Award from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

After breaking his hip for the first time when he was around 103, many in the area thought this would force Berner to slow down. So when Holden drove down Calwell Avenue six months later and saw a man standing atop a four-foot ladder cutting down poison ivy, he pulled over. That man of course was Berner.

“I asked him what he was doing. He said, ‘I have to get this poison ivy, before it gets someone else. It already got me,’” Holden remembered.
Only after breaking his other hip a few years later did Berner decide — or more accurately was convinced — he should take it easy.

Taking it easy is of course a relative term.

“He’s stopped cleaning now,” Holden said. “But he is always a fighter.”

Berner still walks two miles a day and will help out and do whatever he can in the neighborhood.

Berner once said when asked why he still volunteers at such an advanced age, “I like to help people — especially the elderly.”

“This guy is an inspiration. How can you sit home and not volunteer after seeing this guy,” Holden asked. “He’s an inspiration to the Juniper Park Civic and to the city. He makes you believe anything is possible.”

Crusade to clean up community


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Robert Holden

A local civic leader wants his community to be a sight for sore eyes, which first requires ridding it of eyesores.

Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, is pushing the Department of Buildings (DOB) to padlock properties with violations and unpaid fines that are a blemish on the community.

After successfully getting the DOB to investigate a scofflaw on 84th Street in Middle Village, Holden is turning his attention to other neighborhood blights — including one at 60-37 Wetherole Street.

The property has nine open violations dating back seven years and $14,500 in unpaid fines, according to DOB records.

Holden said the house has been an eyesore for nearly a decade.

Violations have been levied against the property for failing to maintain the building’s walls and storing vehicles without license plates in the front yard.

The owner of the house is listed as Ted Muschunas, who was unable to be contacted for the story.