Tag Archives: WRBA

‘House of Horrors’ still a problem in Woodhaven


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Some people in Woodhaven are still worried about what has been labelled the “House of Horrors.”

Residents voiced continued concerns at the September meeting of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA) about the house at 87-19 90th Street, where last year an 18-year-old was murdered.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) recently sealed the back door of the house with concrete blocks, WRBA President Ed Wendell said. The DOB left before the cement had dried, however, and vandals kicked in the bricks.

The problem with the house, according to Community Affairs officer Jose Severino of the 102nd Precinct, was that the house has been foreclosed and is owned by a bank. This means if the police do make an arrest for trespassing, a representative from the bank has to sign an affidavit for the trespassing charge, he said. Because many of the banks are from out of state, it is nearly impossible to get a bank representative to comply; as a result, the suspects must be let go after a certain amount of time.

Severino went on to say this was a nationwide problem as more houses are foreclosed and left dormant by banks.

Assemblymember Mike Miller suggested collecting a list of foreclosed homes, finding out which banks owned the houses, and setting up a hotline so a bank representative is always available to sign an affidavit. Miller said he would also contact the district attorney’s office to see what options there are.

 

Many Woodhaven mailboxes stay graffiti free


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

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They delivered for you.

Much of the graffiti that littered the blue or green mailboxes in Woodhaven has been painted over, and the boxes have stayed clean for the most part, said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA).

On Sunday, August 26, Wendell and two other residents went out to clean about nine mailboxes that were tagged. By the end of the day, all 80 mailboxes in Woodhaven — across three zones — were cleaned.

Zone A, which spans from Woodhaven Boulevard to 98th Street, has not needed to be cleaned in nearly a month, Wendell said.

“We haven’t touched that one now in three-and-a-half weeks,” he said. “We’re definitely seeing some progress.”

After researching graffiti statistics, Wendell said the best way to fight consistent graffiti was by repainting the mailboxes as soon as they have been tagged.

The Courier reported in early August that the WRBA had been tracking tags in an effort to combat the markings throughout the neighborhood.

The Block Association has continued to give information to the 102nd Precinct to help fight the problem.

If graffiti continues in the neighborhood, Wendell said residents would be open to staking out boxes that are common targets, in conjunction with police efforts. He and other residents plan on taking the Civilian Police Course this fall that will inform them of correct legal procedures.

“We did speak to [the police] about doing stake-outs,” Wendell said. “We have got about a half dozen residents, myself included, who are going to the Civilian Police Academy.”

The neighborhood leader said if a vandal is caught, residents will work with law enforcement to make sure the proper penalty is imposed.

“Now when someone gets arrested for tagging in the neighborhood, we’re going to be following up,” he said.

Package thief wanted in Woodhaven


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the WRBA

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) is seeking the public’s help in catching a one-armed thief who stole a package off a resident’s porch near 94th Street and 86th Avenue.

About two minutes after a UPS package was left on the porch, a silver minivan pulled over across the street, said the WRBA. After about seven minutes, the minivan driver, who appears to be missing his right arm, backed up the car, exited it, walked up to the porch and stole the package. The crime, which occurred in the late afternoon on Monday, July 23, was caught on surveillance video.

“This is yet another example of how useful video surveillance cameras can be for our neighborhood.  Now we need to put this extremely strong evidence to work and make sure this thief gets caught,” said Ed Wendell, president of the WRBA. “He might be from Woodhaven, or he might be from a nearby neighborhood.  Wherever he’s from, you should let us know if you have any clues, because you might be his next victim.”

If you have any information that could help solve this crime, please contact the WRBA at 718-296-3737 or info@woodhaven-nyc.org. Or you can call the 102nd Precinct at 718-805-3207.

 

The good & ugly


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE GOOD . . .

Taking back our streets.

We applaud the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) — and all others like it — in their efforts to curb vandalism.

Though we are lovers of art, we feel that graffiti is a blight on our communities.

It lowers the value of area homes and reduces sales in business districts.

And though the NYPD has resources allocated to graffiti removal, it is an uphill battle.

Often, spots that have been cleaned of vandalism will be retagged days — sometimes hours — later.

So bravo, WRBA, for your vigilance in finding, chronicling, and cleaning graffiti.

And, working with the NYPD, we hope that your efforts will help take some graffitists off the streets, making Queens a cleaner, more beautiful place to live.

THE UGLY . . .

In unrelated incidents, a two year old and a four year old fell victim to the latest spate of gun violence.

That brings the tally to three.

Three children, all under the age of five, have been hit by stray bullets this summer.

When will the madness end?

If the massacre in Aurora, Colorado, which left 12 dead and 58 injured, is not enough to spur action, then this should be.

We MUST urge our legislators to increase gun control. It is time we stood up.

Write, call email – TODAY – and tell your local senator and congressmember – even the president – that you are in favor of gun control.

 

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Phone: 202-456-1111

 

Senator Charles Schumer: 322 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington D.C. 20510

Phone: 202-224-6542

 

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: 780 Third Avenue Suite 2601

New York, New York 10017

Phone: 212: 688-6262

Uphill battle in Woodhaven fight against graffiti


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

On a recent rainy Saturday afternoon, Ed Wendell stopped the car every few blocks to inspect one of the graffiti-covered mailboxes in his neighborhood.

If untagged, he and fellow Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA) member Alex Blenkinsopp felt it a small victory. If retagged, Wendell rolled down the window, despite the raindrops, and snapped a picture of the graffiti on the box.

Over the past two years, the WRBA has been trying to clean up graffiti in the neighborhood, which is mainly found on mailboxes or fireboxes. In the last few months, members have gone out to repaint them — sometimes to find them retagged a few days or weeks later.

Wendell, president of the WRBA, and members have mapped out the neighborhood into three zones to keep track of common graffiti areas.

They went out to clean up “Zone A” on Saturday, July 14, where Wendell said 44 percent of the mailboxes had been tagged. By day’s end the entire zone — bordered by Park Lane South and Atlantic Avenue — was cleaned, he said. By Tuesday, July 24, however, Wendell said 56 percent of the mailboxes in Zone A were tagged again.

Residents, armed with green and blue paint courtesy of the U.S. Post Office, have not only been recording which boxes are marked, but the tags as well, in an attempt to combat consistent graffitists.

“Now what we’ve added to it is keeping track of the tags themselves,” Wendell said, noting that Zone B extends from 85th Street to Woodhaven Boulevard, and Zone C from Eldert Lane to 80th Street .

The 102nd Precinct currently has two officers who, along with regular duties, are assigned to specialize in graffiti: identifying, removing and preventing.

Wendell and Blenkinsopp said the association has been working with these officers.

“I’m sure they have a lot of information they can pass along to us,” he said.

A precinct spokesperson said officers had been in touch with the block association, which has been forwarding emails and information to the graffiti officers.

Wendell said he’s hopeful some of these taggers will be caught, noting that he would be open to those guilty helping in the clean up efforts.

“I’d love to see when they catch one of these guys,” he said.

Despite a plethora of mailboxes covered sometimes in several, varying tags, Wendell said graffiti in the neighborhood is not as bad as it was in the 1970s, when an entire subway car could be covered in spraypaint. One popular tag throughout the neighborhood back then, he said, was called “Fred board in the head.” The tag featured a man’s face with a board of wood nailed to it.

Today’s popular tags run the gamut, he said.

Blenkinsopp and Wendell also mentioned that others have argued graffiti is a form of expression or artwork, but mailboxes or other public landmarks were not the correct medium.

“This is different,” Blenkinsopp said. “They’re getting their name out there and they’re marking their territory.” He went on to mention 5pointz in Long Island City as a positive place to use graffiti, as it was designated for such.

“I’d like to hear more of a citywide effort to solve this,” Wendell said.

Woodhaven opposed to redistricting, traffic changes


| ecamhi@queenscourier.com

Woodhaven residents continued to show solidarity against recent rezoning and redistricting issues within their community.

During the Woodhaven Residents Block Association’s (WRBA) monthly town hall meeting, Ed Wendell, president of the civic group, urged residents to attend Community Board 9’s (CB 9) upcoming meeting to vote on the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) much criticized traffic change proposal.

The proposal, which Wendell said most residents oppose, would convert 89th Avenue to a one way street while changing 84th Street from a one-way northbound to a one-way southbound street between Liberty and Atlantic avenues.

CB 9 was slated to vote on the proposals during a public hearing on February 14 in Kew Gardens, but they postponed it due to complaints from the community about the meeting’s “inconvenient” date and time. They will now be meeting on March 13 to vote at the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps, located at 78-15 Jamaica Avenue.

Meanwhile, Maria Thomson, WRBA financial secretary, asked residents to voice their opposition to recent redistricting plans drafted by Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR). She said the plans would unfavorably split one square mile of Woodhaven amongst three separate Senate districts.

“This is a very, very big deal,” Thomson said. “We don’t want to be sliced and diced. It weakens our strength at the state level.”

Thomson and Assemblymember Mike Miller advised residents who attended the February 18 meeting to act with urgency in voicing their opposition to the redistricting plans.

“You don’t have much time to do it,” Miller said. “The vote is at the end of the month.”

Residents opposed to Woodhaven street changes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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The city’s plan to change the direction of two streets in Woodhaven is heading down a one-way road to opposition.

While the project is only in its proposal stage, plans to convert 84th Street from one-way northbound to one-way southbound from Liberty to Atlantic Avenues and turn 89th Avenue from a two-way to a one-way street running eastbound between Woodhaven Boulevard and 97th Street have been met with resistance from residents and local civic groups.

“Both of these changes are not good for the community. They weren’t asked for by residents,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA). “It doesn’t make very much sense, and it’s a bad change.”

Wendell said if the changes are implemented, the “symbiotic” relationship between Woodhaven and its adjacent neighborhood — Ozone Park — would suffer by the newfound difficulty that would come from traveling back and forth.

He said the 84th Street alteration would eliminate one of the main northbound entry points into Woodhaven, leaving only Woodhaven Boulevard and 76th Street as northbound roads that cross Atlantic Avenue.

“It’s like the doors of a supermarket — with the entrance and exit doors next to each other. If you close one of those doors, it’s going to cause problems. This cuts off one of the valuable entrances back into Woodhaven from Ozone Park. This is going to hurt both communities.”

Wendell also said turning 89th Avenue into a one-way street would severely inconvenience residents — some of whom would be forced to go “at least six blocks out of their way” to get home.

“In order to get home, the only way they can do it is to make this really awkward turn on Jamaica Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, which is congested already,” Wendell said. “That’s the move this is going to force all these people to make. These residents are not going to have a choice. It’s going to be the only way to get home.”

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the request to convert 89th Avenue to a one-way operation came from Community Board 9 (CB 9) in 2008 due to the narrow roadway width, coupled with parking on both sides. The westbound direction was recommended to foster the safe curbside drop-off of students, a DOT spokesperson said.

CB 9 has yet to vote on the proposal, according to District Manager Mary Ann Carey, due to “so much controversy” revolving around the issue. The board postponed the original meeting to vote on the plans in order to seek more input from the community, although Carey said CB 9 sent out notices to residents back in 2008 when she said the plans were first proposed.

“There are so many different opinions. There are a few who are for it, but there are so very many who spoke in opposition of it. CB 9 more than likely goes with the community, but when the community is divided, it’s hard to decide,” Carey said.

The proposals will be voted on during a public hearing scheduled for February 1 at 7 p.m. at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Ozone Park.

Carey said that although feedback from the community board carries a lot of weight, the city Department of Transportation (DOT) will make the final call.