Letters to the Editor – September 2008 - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the September 2008 Juniper Berry Magazine

Letters to the Editor – September 2008

St. Saviour's Church in 1948. Taken by Marie Hahn Wirth.

GOING STRAIGHT TO THE TOP

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

I have been a resident of New York City all of my life, 37 years. I have lived in Brooklyn and Queens and I work in Manhattan. It is rare that I take the opportunity to write my city officials but I have now come to the point where I believe you and several other city officials need to hear what I have to say.

I recently attended the June 26th town meeting of the Juniper Park Civic Association in Queens. I was appalled to hear about the delay regarding the downzoning of Middle Village, Maspeth and Glendale. Furthermore, it is my understanding that the final step to complete these efforts that began years ago is for the chair of the Department of City Planning, Amanda Burden, to come to view the area. As a businessman and a city official you have to admit, this is taking way too long for such a minor stage in the project.

What is taking her so long? Couldn't you ask her to adjust her schedule to come all the way to Queens? It has been over two years that we have been waiting for this last step in the process.

I witnessed at this civic meeting many residents are very disappointed in you since you personally gave them your word, during a campaign visit, that this would be done in short order. Well, now is the time to follow through on your promise.

The cost of overdevelopment in our community is climbing. Our power continues to go out, our basements are now flooding due to inadequate drainage systems, and our streets are overloaded with cars such that driving 2 miles in our community is a lesson in survival.

Our infrastructure is in a constant state of repair. Wouldn't those funds be better spent bringing our infrastructure into the future?

Thank you for allowing me to express my concerns over this issue. I would really like to see your leadership skills take us through this troublesome problem. Our city has some great leaders that just need to continue to listen to their constituents and their own hearts; I hope that you are one of them. My community is very important to me and I'd like it to continue to grow and prosper. But that growth should not come at the expense of the people that already live here.

Sincerely,

Leonard Santoro

CALLING ON MS. BURDEN

To the Editor ‒

Just letting you know, after the discussions at our last meeting, I very easily located Amanda Burden on the NYC Gov website by just Googling her.

My plea was acknowledged but I think we should get as many members as possible to do the same. Here is what I wrote:

The Juniper Park Civic Association is desperately trying to arrange a visit for you to survey our neighborhood and begin rezoning to protect what is left of our beautiful area from overdevelopment, which is destroying it with ever increasing speed. Please Please – what can we do to get you to our lovely area? We will come and drive you on any day that is convenient for you. PLEASE HELP!

Thanks

Barbara Thompson

REMOVING THE GRANDFATHER CLAUSE

Dear Editor,

I have a suggestion that may put a stop to developers tearing down one and two family houses in our neighborhood.

The existing building code contains a grandfather clause that allows developers to tear an existing house down, put in a foundation for a new structure and leave it for an unlimited amount of time before they build the new structure.

Pressure our elected officials to have the grandfather clause eliminated and require the developers to have a Certificate of Occupancy before they destroy an existing structure.

Also include a clause that requires all properties presently using the grandfather clause to revert to the new law.

Let me know if I can help in any way to stop the rape of our neighborhoods by money hungry speculators.

Yours truly,

Richard Wisniewski

a lifetime resident of Maspeth

ILLEGAL OCCUPANCY

Dear Editor:

There are two homes on my block that I am aware of that have multiple people living in each apartment.

One of the addresses is 60-16 83rd Place and there are 20 people living in the walk in and 20 people living in the middle floor with beds all over the apartments and sheets between each bed. This was told to my neighbor who speaks Spanish by one of the men who lives there. The owner lives in the basement. The garage in front of the dwelling is horrendous and there are multiple bikes and strollers on the balcony visible from the street. There is a current epidemic of "bugs" and "rodents" right now. This is the second outbreak, and only weeks ago all the mattresses were put outside the home and all clothes bagged and left outside also. A friend who lives in the attached home next to them said she had roaches and never had them in the 20 plus years she has been there and that every day she finds toys, pencils and junk from these families in front of her basement door. The garbage situation is really bad and everyone who lives near this home is truly disgusted.

The same condition is happening at 60-26 83rd Place. There are so many people living there that I cannot tell you how many actually do live there. The neighbor said that he can see mattresses all over the floor from his apartment. There are many women with babies living in the walk in and the basement as one big living shared space. I understand the owner, who used to live there had torn down and rebuilt the home using illegals and was unable to sell. His rent I heard for the walk in alone was $2,025, and that was a few years ago when he was renting to a family with two boys and they informed me.

I am sure that the landlords are really raking in the bucks here at our expense. This block is very overdeveloped and there is hardly any parking. My son has to actually park on Eliot Avenue as there is really only driveways near our house due to the three new groups of attached three story homes that have been built here over the last few years. This is also a real fire hazard and takes away from the quality of life we had known on this block that used to be just small one family homes with the exception of the Mayflower attached homes towards Eliot which cannot be torn down and rebuilt.

My house was built in 1930 and I take extreme pride in it and keep my sidewalk and grass in good order. I did however have to put a small makeshift fence up around my grass in front as my neighbor seems to think that it is his dog's personal toilet and has caused the grass to have a huge white spot which I had to pay the landscaper to repair; It is the only choice I have to fight back.

I would like to remain anonymous as I mentioned to you. I did call the Dept. of Buildings and complained. I registered this complaint yesterday before coming to the meeting.

Happy to have become a new member last night. Thank you so much.

Name Withheld

A REALLY BAD NEIGHBOR

Dear Editor:

My mother, who is 96 yrs old, has lived in Middle Village for the last 69 yrs. About 8 yrs ago a single man moved next door. She had to endure his used car sideline and the multiple cars parked in the driveway and on the street. I think complaints from neighbors pretty much resolved that problem. Then he moved a man into his basement. When I referred to the man as his tenant he corrected me and said it was a relative. Well after a few years the "relative" moved out. Now it seems he is running his own SRO. He has two men living downstairs and occasional overnight guests.

He lets them park in his driveway while he parks in the street across his driveway entrance. Of course the only way for them to get onto or off his driveway when he is home is to use my mother's driveway. They do this without permission. Finally she put up a barrier with planters and flower pots. Guess what? He is angry with her. He doesn't think she is a good neighbor. I would like to resolve the whole thing because it upsets her so much. She is too old to handle the stress.

Name Withheld

SELFISH NEIGHBORS

Dear Editor,

We have a major problem here on 75 Place between Eliot Avenue and Juniper Boulevard North.

There are a bunch of residents here who do two things:

place garbage cans in front of their houses to reserve what they think are their cherished parking spots; and park over the sidewalk in front of their houses rather than pull entirely into their driveways.

I cannot walk my dog on the sidewalk as a result of the latter. She has more right to be there than an illegally parked car all night long.

Any advice?

And yes, I have called 311 and the 104th Precinct. There's never any response.

Mad in Middle Village

TRUCK TIRES STOLEN IN MINUTES

Senator Maltese,

My wife and I have a major concern and complaint in our community that we would like to have heard.

On July 3rd at 59-22 69th Lane in Maspeth, at 2:45am, I was awoken to the sounds of my truck alarm going off. I went downstairs to deactivate my alarm, and to look at my vehicle to find all the wheels in my truck gone and my truck balancing on two cinder blocks. All of this happening only two houses down from mine. I proceeded to call the police who arrived in a matter of about 10 minutes. I was able to file my police report, but found it alarming that I was told by the officers and the local tow truck driver who was on the scene that this is the 6th incident in the last week to week and a half of this happening. When hearing this and also the cops arriving at a very reasonable time I found it odd that there was no attempt to cruise the area for a few minutes, or radio the precinct of a possible vehicle in the area. I am not in law enforcement, but to me that seems like the right thing to do.

Here are my family's major concerns and complaints for our community;

- Before this incident I parked my truck in front of my house every night blocking my driveway. I own the two houses that this driveway is for and both houses are under video surveillance. There are of a total of three cameras that watch the entire front of both houses and the front of the driveway. The one night that I parked my truck two houses down out of range of these cameras is the night they vandalized my vehicle. This tells me one thing; these individuals are casing the entire neighborhood. They have to be driving around on a regular basis looking for vehicles and patterns and also security weakness. Bottom Line

‒ We need more patrol cars cruising our streets.

- Since this incident I have been voicing my concerns to my neighbors and friends. I have also been keeping tabs on more incidents in my area. Almost one week after my incident they did the same thing exactly two blocks down from me on the same street and shortly after that one block up from me on the same street. This block has quick and easy access to the LIE which is maybe why they are targeting it. Bottom Line ‒ We need more patrol cars cruising our streets.

- If there have been so many similar incidents of this kind why has this not been moved up to a detective's squad or task force? Bottom Line ‒ The 104 Precinct needs to step up and do something.

Senator, I moved to this neighborhood 7 years ago when I got married and I enjoy living here, but when someone cannot even park their vehicle on their own block let alone next to their own house it is very disheartening. I am aware of all the staffing issues at the 104 Precinct, but I hope this can be added to their long list of concerns. I will make all the effort in the world to make it to the next meeting and voice any more concerns I have, and also see what has been done on this front.

Thank you for your time and support in our community.

Mike Giammarco

TURN CHURCH GROUNDS INTO A PARK

Dear Editor:

This past Sunday I had occasion to be in Maspeth visiting family. While in the neighborhood I decided to drive by St. Saviour's Church to see what progress, if any, had been made. Believe me I was not prepared for the heart wrenching sight that awaited me! This sacred land that hosted the church in which I was baptized and attended during my youth has been reduced to a barren wasteland surrounded by a fence scrawled with graffiti. Why not feature that picture on the cover of "Juniper Berry" so all your readers can be reminded of how things can wrong because of greed and politics.

Perhaps there can be some salvaging of this travesty for the community's benefit, if this were to become one of Mayor Bloomberg's neighborhood parks. Maspeth is in need and deserving of a green park!

Thank you,

Marie Hahn Wirth

Westbury

Note: As a young girl I took the above picture from my grandmother's house (57th Road-Rust St) where I also lived.

UNLEASHED DOG PROBLEM CONTINUES

To: Dorothy Lewandowski, Queens Park Commissioner

Re: Unleashed Dogs in Juniper Valley Park

I am sending you an e-mail I received today from an area resident who lives near Juniper Park. It speaks for itself.

"This morning at around 8am, my next door neighbor, was returning from the park after a brief walk, when an unleashed dog, ran past him and hit him in the back of his legs. He lost his balance and fell on both knees, scraping them. No broken bones as of yet. But, I see this every morning. A lot of people, particularly the elderly are frightened, and often make detours."

We are seeing the dog owners acting more and more emboldened with the unleashing of their dogs. After 9pm at night the fields are invaded by dog owners who feel that 9pm signals their time in Juniper Valley Park with their unleashed dogs. Since when?

Dog owners refer to the chicken wired fenced area as their "dog run." Since when?

Also dog owners, who make it very clear that they are not happy with the chicken wired fenced area and feel that their dogs are entitled to all of Juniper, are boldly bringing their unleashed dogs into the pool area by the park house. There is one female park worker at the park house who tries very hard to maintain order and reprimands the dog owners. We need more of those kinds of workers. The unleashed dogs are also drinking from the water fountains.

Commissioner Lewandowski, I think I've given you a snap shot picture of current dog conditions in Juniper Valley Park. The one thing I almost left out is the resounding barking in the early morning hours, 6am to 9am, and dog owner screaming their dogs' names trying to keep them under control in the chicken wired area.

We need your intervention and your authority to, first of all, educate the public who are totally without a clue about dog rules in Juniper, and then crack the whip, get signs posted stating no unleashed dogs and, very importantly, that the 9pm curfew is directed to everyone, dogs included, to stay out of Juniper Valley Park.

Please address these serious developments that have evolved from dog owners who feel that, because you and Commissioner Benepe have given them the authority to have their dogs unleashed from 6am to 9am, they own Juniper and everyone and everything else better get out of their way.

Gary Colter and I have spoken about the problems I've stated above. We would like to meet with you at a convenient time to make some sense out of your dog edicts that seem to empower dog owners to feel Juniper is their park and that they, the dog owners, are in charge.

Lorraine Sciulli

First Vice President

Juniper Park Civic Association

PROTECTION OF TREES

Community Members and Friends-

As tree protection matters have come to my attention, I've passed those matters on to you with hopes to bring to you a better understand for the need to protect and preserve our urban tree resource.

I've only guessed that you are familiar with basic tree amenities- the utilitarian benefits and services that mature trees provide for us.

Some of these amenities are ecology, economy and social- the amelioration of climate, a reduction of UV light, bioretainment of storm water run-off, beautification, the contribution to property values, improvement of BID climate and by bringing people together (under the hot noon day sun).

These are only a few known reasons why we must make an issue of protecting and preserving this resource. Yet, as I and others have recently found, public trees are not protected by any law within the City of New York. Can you imagine that! Public trees are up for grabs by real estate interests, engineers, planners, architects and their developers and are quickly to remove trees when perceived to be in the way. We have also found that the heads of the various Mayoral agencies, the public services that they run and the tree occupied public landscapes that they oversee have failed miserably to protect this resource (i.e., Department of Parks, School Construction Authority, Department of Design and Construction, Department of Environmental Protection, etc.).

Why is that? Mayor Bloomberg has clearly been misinformed and has bypassed making an issue of the importance of preserving large and mature trees because new tree planting is far sexier and offers more political capital than large and mature trees do. Clearly his Commissioners, including their chiefs and directors follow lockstep to a drum beat that ignores the importance of those large and mature trees. Perhaps the ground swell of public protest has not been great enough. Perhaps the general public really does not care, until the axe-man comes to take the tree down. By then it is already too late.

Regards,

Carsten W. Glaeser Ph.D

Executive Director

Kissena Park Civic Association,

Chair – Tree (and Landscape) Protection Subcommittee

Queens Civic Congress,

Consulting Arborist

Queens Coalition for Parks and Greenspace

FUNDING FOR PARKS

Dear Mr. Arcuri,

I am pleased to inform you that I have allocated $400,000 in the City budget for Juniper Valley Park and $400,000 for Reiff Playground as part of my Fiscal Year 2009 Capital Discretionary allocation.

As requested, the funding in part will help pay for the following:

Juniper Valley Park: Phase II funding ‒ will enhance the entrance to the Pullis Cemetery between 80th Street and Dry Harbor Road; installation of new plantings and upgrades to the existing asphalt path system.

Reiff Playground: upgrades to the existing comfort stations with new ADA provisions provided.

The funding in these projects is designated in the Fiscal Year 2009 Executive Budget.

Please feel free to contact Mark Scott from my office at (718) 286-2826 to discuss this funding and any other inquiries that you may have.

Sincerely,

Helen M. Marshall

President

Borough of Queens

THANKS IN HIS MEMORY

I have been busy of late with my mom's illness (she has been in the hospital for the past 8 days and will need to go into short-term rehab for a few weeks) and did not take the time to say thanks for the great article you wrote in the Berry about my brother Dennis. I can't express strongly enough my family's gratitude for your assistance on this project.

Hopefully, the Post Office and Anthony Weiner will both come through to help make this a reality.

Thanks again and please thank your Executive Board and everyone that supported this effort.

Brian K. Finneran

BAD APPLES

I have lived on Grand Ave. since 1972. I have raised two children in this same house in what we always thought was a good neighborhood, full of hardworking families. We share a community driveway where our children could safely play and at any given moment we can look into the backyard and see where our children are and know they are okay. Lately this has changed.

As the years went, we discovered a problem. In the last decade we began to see other children, who act more like packs of wild animals, walk down Grand Ave. and into the community driveway vandalizing the properties and causing general chaos for the time it takes them to saunter down the blocks to their destinations. We came to find out that these children come from P.S. 73. In the past they would pick on each other, pick fights, run into our backyards and ruin vegetable gardens (wasting other people's food just to throw it on the ground) and occasionally shout profanities at people that live here or put up some small graffiti. Now they are getting worse. Nowadays they throw rocks, break windows, and continue to ruin gardens. Do these kids not know the meaning of respect for others?

Not too long ago we had an incident where a child from this school threw a large bolt (small gear) at our windows. A double pane window was shattered and a large piece came down like a guillotine over my front door and the bolt landed inside. Besides the damage and the cost of repair, the harder part to swallow is the frustration of not being able to do anything about it. We followed procedure, called the cops and spoke with the Captain. This child, which spent the next few days bringing schoolmates to the front of our house to "show off" and re-tell his story for his chums to think he was cool, could not be touched. I then spoke to the Community Board, the school's Principal, and Assemblywoman Markey, but no one has an answer for us. What are we to do? Oh, he's a minor, and if you go anywhere near him it's worse for you. You shouldn't even scold him. The child cannot be held accountable for his actions because he will not be present by the time the police arrive nor can he be physically held until they arrive. Now what are we to do if we can't protect our homes? Our backyard/community driveway isn't safe for children to play in anymore, and no one has any solution.

As this epidemic of disrespectful youths continues to grow unabated, what does that mean for the rest of us? Is our only option, the only solution apparent, to move? Is being displaced from our home all that is left to do because children today don't know what it means to respect another's home and neighborhood? Must we surrender everything that we have learned to preserve and appreciate in our lives because someone else's children can't be taught to do the same? Many of my neighbors have left and others intend to leave, so I ask can we find a solution while there are still people here who care?

Sincerely,

Mario Spotorno

TRUCK TRAFFIC A NIGHTMARE

Dear Editor:

With the current truck accident on Grand Avenue where a tractor loaded with sand flipped over you have to wonder who the geniuses were who originally designed this area. It is known by everyone as the most dangerous in Maspeth for pedestrians and motorists.

When they finished construction of the part of Grand Avenue that goes over the LIE it had metered parking on both sides of the avenue leaving one lane in each direction. It wasn't long before they realized that they needed two lanes and removed the meters.

Why couldn't they have made a nice wide area with sidewalks and bollards to protect pedestrians and also have made much needed parking spots. They had all the space they needed over the LIE.

Another dangerous spot for pedestrians is at the Veterans Park. People sitting in the park have no protection from cars and trucks that can jump the curb. Bollards are needed all over the city, why not here?

The parking area behind Iavarone's store is poorly designed. Sometimes in this small space there are a few trucks unloading and there are also cars from customers and employees. This location has one curb cut for vehicles from the service road and one curb cut for pedestrians to cross the service road. What do all the vehicles do? They use the pedestrian curb cut to enter and exit onto 69th Street posing a serious danger to traffic and pedestrians.

It has been five years since a traffic study of this area was released. The study was requested by the Juniper Park Civic Association and the group, Transportation Alternatives, and was compiled by architect Michael King. There was a whole list of things to do to improve safety. Although there have been some improvements such as marking crosswalks and giving pedestrians a head start crossing streets and the placement of some bollards, it's not enough.

Much more has to be done by the DOT to make the area truly safe. Let's hope it doesn't take some more fatalities before they wake up. Thank you.

Richard Polgar

Maspeth, NY