Tag Archives: Warren Schreiber

Pols at Fort Totten call for increased security at Army Reserve Centers

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Paul Vallone

Congressman Steve Israel and local officials stood outside the Ernie Pyle Reserve Center at Bayside‘s Fort Totten on Monday to call on the Department of Defense to address security concerns at Army Reserve Center facilities nationwide.

Last week, Israel sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter asking that he consider an increase in the amount of active security measures, including providing security guards at military Reserve facilities. The request follows the July 16 attack on two military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which saw a lone gunman opening fire and killing four Marines and critically wounding a Navy sailor.

Security concerns at the Reserve Center were brought to Israel’s attention by a worker at the Fort Totten military facility.

Israel said that more must be done to ensure the safety of service members, whether they are stationed overseas or within the U.S.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the five service members killed in Chattanooga,” Israel said. “Unfortunately, this is a stark reminder of the devastation caused by gun violence in our country, and the security concerns surrounding our military facilities nationwide.”

Councilman Paul Vallone applauded the congressman for spearheading the initiative.

“The horrible tragedy at the Navy Reserve Center in Chattanooga has highlighted the need to address security concerns at reserve centers across the nation,” Vallone said. “We need to ensure that those who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect us, are in turn given the best protection we can provide.”

According to Mac Harris, director of Fort Totten Operation, budget cuts in 2009 forced Fort Totten to remove its armed guards from the facility and put in place a passive security system.

“The Army Reserve presence on Fort Totten adds to the surrounding community’s sense of well-being,” said Warren Schreiber, president of Bay Terrance Community Alliance. “In return, the Department of Defense must do everything possible to ensure the safety of troops on this base and at all Army Reserve locations. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is urged to provide Fort Totten’s Reserve facilities with adequate and immediate security.”


Only gas station in Bay Terrace set to close in August

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Forget gas prices — Bay Terrace residents are worrying about where they’ll get gas after next month. 

The only gas station in Bay Terrace, a Gulf and Dunkin’ Donuts combo outlet located near the Bay Terrace Shopping Center on Bell Boulevard, is set to close on August 28, after developer Cord Meyer decided not to renew a lease with the station’s owner.

While some will miss the station, other residents have complained for years about noise coming from the station, which operates around the clock, and young people gathering there after hours, according to Cord Meyer officials. Also, there was a gas leak at the site a few years ago, which caused the owner to shut down one of the station’s tanks. Cord Meyer is pulling the station because of those issues.

“Unlike a developer like Donald Trump, people know where we are,” said Cord Meyer Chief Operating Officer Anthony Colletti. “We are partners with the community. We don’t want to do anything that’s not popular [with them].”

Colletti said the company recognized that there are some people who haven’t had bad experiences with the station, but said it wouldn’t be possible to please everyone.

The gas station put up a sign yesterday informing residents of the closure. It has been a gas station for about 50 years — first owned by Exxon Mobil — and added the Dunkin’ Donuts about 15 years ago, the manager said.

Many neighborhood people, who regularly stop by in the morning for breakfast and coffee, were surprised and upset by the impending closure. They said they’re never had any problems with the store.

“I’m very disappointed that Cord Meyer didn’t negotiate with them,” said Lenard Schull, a Bay Terrace resident of nearly 40 years. “This place is going to be missed.”

The station’s staff of 15 people, who will lose their jobs, were brought to tears Monday when informed of the closure.

“I feel sad,” said Rowena Manahan, who emigrated from the Philippines and has worked at the station’s Dunkin’ Donuts since it opened. “This is my first job. This is my second home. The people here are like family.”

Manahan said she sent money over 15 years to her family in the Philippines to take care of her two children.

Cord Meyer has already signed a lease for a full service Dunkin’ Donuts to be placed in the mall on the second level near 26th Avenue. But it’s not certain whether the staff will move there, because the ownership will be different.

Residents against the station closure are convinced that the developer is courting a tenant for increased rent. Cord Meyer officials said they have not decided on a tenant yet.

The Gulf station will have to be remedied and inspected after it is shut down, which will take several months, so the lot will be vacant for a while.

The nearest gas station — ironically a similar Gulf and Dunkin’ Donuts mix — is in Bayside about 10 minutes away on 35th Avenue and Bell Boulevard, leaving residents with an option, but some still think it’s a big loss to the community.

“There is no doubt that a lot of people will be inconvenienced,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “Many residents found it convenient to have a gas station right here in Bay Terrace.”




Little Bay Park project stall is little ‘comfort’

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Bayside elected officials and community leaders are campaigning for relief for visitors of Little Bay Park and hoping that millions of dollars in funding hasn’t been flushed by the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Senator Tony Avella united with Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, and residents of the Bayside community on November 29 to urge the Parks Department to begin the revitalization project of Little Bay Park – which includes the construction of a comfort station.

Avella, who previously allocated funding for a dog run in the park, apportioned $1.3 million for the public restrooms seven years ago – the same time Congressmember Gary Ackerman secured a $4.12 million federal transportation allocation to reconstruct and expand the Little Bay parking lot and rebuild the Cross Island Parkway Bridge overpass at 212th Street.

Neither project has commenced, and three port-a-potties are currently stationed in the park.

“This seems to be systematic of the Parks Department – getting money and then not moving ahead with the project,” said Avella, who believes usage of the park has increased by 1,000 percent in the past decade. “It is unfair to the community to have to wait seven years for something they have been asking for, and it is unfair to tax payers because each year you delay a capital project, costs go up. I would hate to even ask the Parks Department what this project would cost today.”

The senator blames the delay on a lack of communication and transparency and says he plans to introduce state legislation requiring all city agencies to provide information on their web sites about all pending capital projects, including where funding is coming from, the anticipated start and completion dates and where the projects are in the construction process.

“These were important funds that I fought hard to secure for our community,” said Ackerman. “It’s well past time for these projects to move forward. Hopefully, all agencies involved can cut through the bureaucratic red tape so that shovels can finally get into the ground as soon as possible.”

During the press conference, community leaders emphasized that there is “great fear” that the money is being used for other projects.

“It’s obvious that the planned park and traffic enhancements have somehow been derailed. It’s time to get them back on track,” said Schreiber, who called the Parks Department one of the most difficult agencies to deal with. “At some point you have to wonder if the money is still there or if it was used for another purpose.”

According to a Parks Department spokesperson, a number of outstanding issues exist that are preventing the initiation of the project, including state approval to build close to a coastal zone, state approval to handle archaeological finds – if any are discovered on site – due to the recent discovery of archaeological material within half a mile of the park, and permission from several agencies to utilize a sewer line owned by the FDNY.

“The total budget for the comfort station and parking lot is approximately $4 million,” said the spokesperson. “This includes both federal and city funds. The funding is secure and has not been reallocated. Because the project contains federal grant funds, the state is obligated to review all plans before Parks can bid or begin to build.  We’ve been working closely and actively with the State Department of Transportation (DOT) to address their comments and requests.”

After learning of the press conference on November 29, Avella says Parks Department officials and the Department of Transportation contacted him and arranged a meeting to discuss the project.

“At this point, I am optimistic that the Parks Department recognizes this is a serious issue for the community,” Avella said. “Hopefully they will realize that we need communication and transparency and we are here to work together to move this project along.”