Tag Archives: town hall

Emergency town hall to be held on controversial East Elmhurst homeless shelter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano


Community members will have their voices heard during an emergency town hall meeting on Wednesday over the city’s decision to turn an East Elmhurst motel into a permanent homeless shelter.

On July 9 , the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) approved the conversion of the Westway Motor Inn, located at 71-11 Astoria Blvd., into a shelter to immediately house over 100 homeless families, according to officials. The shelter will be managed by social services provider Women In Need.

Residents, elected officials and local leaders say they are outraged they weren’t told or asked about the motel becoming a permanent shelter.

The United Community Civic Association will hold the emergency town hall meeting as well as a public protest on July 23 opposing the approved site selection.

“We have nothing against any of the groups that will be living here. The site is our concern. Only ones that will benefit from it are the owners of Westway,” Rose Marie Poveromo, president of the United Community Civic Association, previously told The Queens Courier. “Nobody wants to be homeless and we understand that, but this is not the place to house them.”

Since the families have moved into the shelter, The Courier has observed Tempur-Pedic mattresses being delivered to the motel and also what looks like a recreational area being constructed in the back lot of the site.

A neighborhood resident said he has also seen portable electric kitchens being delivered to the motel.

The DHS did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

The town hall meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image, located at 36-01 35th Ave.

 

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Despite relief, plane noise may still plague northeast Queens


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Northeast Queens residents may get a respite from the plane noise that tormented them last summer — but not full relief.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials said there would be fewer planes flying over portions of Bayside and Flushing. But, depending on traffic and wind, there could be times residents could hear the same turbulence they heard in summer 2012, officials confirmed.

“What you experienced last summer was an anomaly,” said Carmine Gallo, the FAA’s eastern regional administrator. “The number of airplanes you saw last summer was to collect data. That’s not going to happen this summer.”

A six-month trial period called the “TNNIS Climb” caused a barrage of low-flying airplanes to soar over parts of northeast Queens last summer by the minute each day from 6 a.m. to noon and then again from 6 p.m. to midnight.

The FAA said the test was to ensure the required three mile separation between John F. Kennedy International Airport arrivals and LaGuardia Runway 13 departures while using a new, precise navigation system.

The procedure was approved last December, but FAA officials said the route would be put to limited use. Air traffic would be spread out between other climbs, they said at a March 14 town hall meeting, where residents and elected officials urged the federal agency to reverse its decision.

“If the route doesn’t go back to the old way, the FAA is in for the fight of its life,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “We’re not going to let this affect our quality of life.”

Gallo said the agency’s goal was to ensure the “safe, efficient, secure operation of aircraft.”

He said the FAA makes no profit off airlines or the newly approved procedure, despite accusations by some, including Assemblymember Ed Braunstein.
“We shouldn’t be forced out of our backyards so the airline industry can make more money,” Braunstein said.

Residents also asked if the agency could move routes over waterways and parks instead of residential neighborhoods.

The suggestion “would be nice,” said Ralph Tamburro, the agency’s New York traffic management officer. But it would ultimately be “an impossible task.”

“With the amount of airplanes, you can’t do it,” he said.

The FAA agreed to involve the community in future decisions and to continue hearing them out.

“You’ve caused disruption to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance.

 

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Pols argue over whose co-op/condo legislation is best


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A coalition of co-op and condo owners in northeast Queens had one message for its elected officials after arguments erupted over whose bill was best: no more lip service.

“What you see is the dysfunction in Albany. This isn’t a Republican-Democrat issue. It’s about homeowners who don’t want to be pushed out of their homes,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village Owners, Inc. and cofounder of the President’s Co-op Council.

The Council — which represents about 100,000 co-op shareholders — joined close to one dozen elected officials and more than 900 concerned Queens residents at North Shore Towers on April 12 to rally for action against the city for another year of property tax spikes.

While Friedrich said a solution could not be reached without the cooperation of state lawmakers, some electeds — with pointed fingers — turned the meeting into a heated political debate.

“There’s been a little too much lip service tonight. I sat here and got madder and madder as I listened to every speaker,” said Senator Tony Avella. “We had an opportunity last year, and we blew it because of politics on both sides of the aisle.”

Currently, there are three bills on the table in Albany on how to address the issue, which Avella said is a clear sign of disconnect between state leaders who he said may each be pushing for their own legislation to pass.

“It’s not that the Republicans don’t want to move the bill to address this — it’s which bill should they support? Which one gets passed? This has to stop. I don’t care if it’s my bill or somebody else’s bill, but this has got to stop. We’re not working together,” he said.

Avella’s own bill, which he called the “best solution,” would create a new property tax class — called Class 1A — for co-op and condo owners. He said the bill would provide the same protections that exist for Class 1 properties, capping any single yearly tax increase at 6 percent and 20 percent over a five year period.

An earlier law put forth by Assemblymember David Weprin would propose similar provisions, classifying co-ops as Class 1 and capping increases at the same percentage, while other legislation by Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblymember Ed Braunstein would see co-ops paying only 75 percent of their legal fees in a successful certiorari suit. They said the law would also stabilize assessments for two years following a successful challenge, capping spikes at 3 percent to prevent the necessity of an additional proceeding.

Councilmember Mark Weprin fired back, saying each elected official was in fact “working hard” together to create a solution by this year.

“With all due respect, you’re the one who hasn’t been to most of the meetings,” Weprin said. “This is a very delicate situation, but to say that people here are just giving lip service is just nonsense. This is not about whose bill we’re going to sponsor. We’re all trying to solve a problem here, and I think we’re all open to whatever solution we can get adopted that will save co-op owners. That’s the goal here, and that’s why I took a lot of offense.”

Senate and Assembly officials have only until the end of June this year to agree on one single bill and have it passed by both Houses, Weprin said. While the City Council is not directly involved in the legislation process, Weprin said councilmembers have an upper hand in trying to get the mayor on board.

“I’ve seen bills drafted, signed and passed in 12 hours. We just have to work together,” Weprin said. “I thought [the meeting] was a good case of democracy in action.”