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

Originally published in the December 2007 Juniper Berry Magazine

Letters to the Editor

Natural Turf Can Be Just as Bad

Dear Editor:

Anyone concerned about the cancer-causing potential of artificial turf should be equally concerned about the massive amounts of chemicals used to maintain natural turf, at least as it is practiced in Central Park where I go every day. There's a constant stream of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides any of which are major concerns from a health viewpoint, not just for humans but also with regard to the environment. Cancer is really the least of it. Herbicides, for example, are known to mess with the endocrine system. All of these things leach into the groundwater. Fields cannot be used for 24 hours, post-application, and there are some who question safety beyond that time.

The chemicals destroy the multitude of living things ‒ most of which are microscopic ‒ on which healthy soil depends. Worse yet, it poisons the worms and insects on which the birds feed, and the birds are in turn poisoned. If they forage in the grass while it's still wet with spray they get an even bigger dose. Many die outright while others ‒ especially fledglings ‒ can simply fail to thrive and die later.

In Central Park it's not at all unusual to find birds or squirrels unable to coordinate their steps, twitching, etc.

Natural turf is a haven only when organic methods are used. That may be more labor intensive or more expensive, I don't know. But it is being done (even on golf courses) because more people are becoming concerned about the known hazards of chemical use.

I, for one, am a die-hard nature freak and hate the idea of artificial anything, but to me chemical maintenance of nature is as artificial an oxymoron as it gets.

One more thing, about the illegal signage on lampposts, etc, an exemption has always been made for emergency notices such as those concerning lost people or pets. I certainly hope that continues.

Sincerely,

Ms. Willie Harrison

Relay for Life

Dear Editor:

The Relay for Life is a worthwhile event that touches the lives of everyone in the community and I deeply appreciate your interest in teaming up with us this year to help fight this terrible disease. I look forward to working with you in the near future and thank you again for your support.

Should you have any further questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Kruithoff

Middle Village Relay for Life

Team Captain and Chairman

Entertainment & Activities Committee

Concern Over Dog Thefts

Dear Editor:

As a concerned citizen and dog owner, I am deeply troubled by the recent news clip on TV about the disappearance of the two Maltese dogs from their backyard here in Maspeth. Thankfully, the owners did have their dogs returned to them. I mentioned this incident to several of my neighbors who also own small dogs. Lo and behold, don't you know that one of my neighbors was walking his small dog on 74th Street between 58th Avenue and 58th Road a van with two men pulled alongside him and questioned if his dog was a Maltese. He responded no and quickly returned to his home on 58th Road. Fortunately, 58th Road is a one-way street so the van could not follow him to his home. This incident occurred in the early evening (before dark). Now another incident has occurred with another one of my neighbors. She was walking her Pug early one morning on Caldwell Avenue near 73rd Street and the same situation occurred. The two men just drove alongside her and were checking out her dog. She tried to get the license plate number but was so shaken up that she couldn't remember it. I'm curious to know if your staff is aware of what is going on and if not, what can be done to alert people. I would post signs on trees to alert dog owners to beware but doing this deed is illegal.

This is quite an upsetting situation. I would be devastated if my dogs were stolen away from me. Perhaps an article in the Juniper Berry would spread the word alerting dog owners of these recent happenings and advise them to be aware of their surroundings while walking their beloved pets.

Thank you for your time in reading this. Anything you can do to alert the community is sincerely appreciated. A dedicated pet owner,

Mrs. Marylynne LaBrusciano

Maspeth

Reply: There is no question that anyone who owns a pet has to watch that pet with practically the same vigilance given to their children. The days of leaving a pet out in the yard, unsupervised, are over because of the many predators roaming the neighborhood.

Some Problems are Universal

Dear Editor:

Approximately one year ago my wife and I relocated to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania from Middle Village. My wife and I have always enjoyed the Juniper Berry and it may interest you to know that we face similar issues in Stroudsburg involving overdevelopment, the opening of numerous drug stores and banks, the need for a greater police presence, and the loss of long time businesses to a similar fate as Niederstein's (The Swiftwater Inn and Beaver House Restaurant were recently bulldozed to make room for a new hotel and a Walgreens Drug Store respectively). Best of luck and regards,

Edward & Rose Tomitz

Stroudsburg, PA

No Luck with Trucks

The following correspondence is between a concerned local resident and a representative of the Department of Transportation.

Dear Mr. Utano:

This is in reply to your letter to NYCDOT Queens Borough Commissioner McCarthy.

Please note that it is the responsibility of truck and commercial vehicle operators to be aware of designated truck routes in the area they are traveling. Trucks are required to stay on these authorized routes until the intersection nearest their destination is reached. By following these routes, a truck should not have to travel through non-designated routes for more than one-half mile although diversions of greater length through local streets may sometimes be necessary in order to reach the point of delivery.

The installation of prohibitive truck signage on residential streets is not recommended for 60th Drive for several reasons. First and foremost, illegal movements by trucks onto residential streets are enforceable without the need for signs. If a truck driver is illegally accessing a residential side street simply to make a short cut, he is doing so knowing it is already illegal. A prohibitive sign will not make it more illegal, will not inform the driver of anything he doesn't already know and most importantly, will neither alter nor prohibit this behavior.

Please also note that unless otherwise posted, the legal speed limit in the City of New York is 30 miles per hour. The absence of speed limit signage is not a legal justification for speeding and motorists who exceed 30 MPH do so knowing it is illegal. I suggest you contact the 104th Precinct to address the issue of enforcement of the existing speeding and traffic regulations.

I hope this information was helpful.

Sincerely,

Dan Ross, Community Coordinator

Queens Borough Commissioner's Office

New York City Department of Transportation

Reply from Mr. Utano

Dear Mr. Ross:

What responsibility are you referring to? Have you seen the LIE lately? You should go and observe the lousy driving habits truck drivers are displaying these days. People are getting injured and killed every day as reported on TV. Just look and you will see. You can cite all the rules and regulations at our disposal but speeding and short cuts are occurring too frequently.

Trucks now own the LIE. Just the other day someone I know was almost killed on the LIE by a flying brick and concrete coming from the tire or underbody of a dump truck. I know of another person who had a similar experience, too. Trucks do what they want locally as well. They get paid by the trip, the faster turnaround the more money.

I am sorry, I disagree with you. A truck control sign would remind and make an illegal moving vehicle think twice the next time around. It would help to deter bad driving.

Mr. Ross, FYI, a 30 mph sign is already posted on our 69th Street, a major traffic route. We are a narrow street on 60th drive and our kitchens and living rooms are close to the street. We should have a 20 mph sign on 60th drive. I am sure you know that 20 mph means 30 or more mph for some drivers. And a 30 mph sign means 40 or 50 mph or higher for some cars.

The 104th Precinct cannot post a 24-hour watch for all violators. In fact, enforcement of this kind in our area is rare.

Mr. Ross, I am sorry again, you cannot make a wrong policy a right one by simply throwing a bunch of ill advised partisan and inappropriate rules and regulations at the wrong policy.

Our quality of life is more important to us and it is getting worse by the day. The volume of traffic, speeding and type of traffic moving through our street is getting worse by the day. Overbuilding brings overpopulation, more vehicles and more speeding and truck violations. We need control.

Sincerely,

Anthony Utano

Maspeth

An important link

Dear Mr. Kampermann,

Re: your article in the March/April edition of the Berry concerning rail freight, and possible passenger operations.

The railroad referred to in your article as the "link," is actually the NY Connecting Railroad built in the 1910-1917 period and operated today by CSX-Transportation.

I am co-author of a book on that railroad published last year by the Long Island Sunrise Trail Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. It makes a handy reference for anyone interested in local freight operations.

Here are a few things you might find of interest. During the planning for the NYCR prior to WWI, passenger train usage was discussed, including a connection to the LIRR main line at Winfield. The reason expanded use of the railroad would require little eminent domain is that it was originally built for four track operation. Although no more than two tracks were ever used on the route through Queens, the right of way is generally 80 feet wide to accommodate four tracks.

Currently the line is limited to 10mph operation.

Sincerely,

Bill Thom

Author

The New York Connecting Railroad:

Long Island's Other Railroad

Joint statement on saving Queens' open space

Dear Editor:

New York City must work to preserve its historic natural areas; these historic settings must receive much the same treatment as historical landmarks. The destruction or loss of any natural areas negatively impacts the quality of life for the surrounding communities bordering these green spaces. It flies in the face of what City Hall advocates for parks and preservation in PlaNYC.

Ridgewood Reservoir should be preserved as such and the monies (some $46 million) to destroy this green area's natural settings should be re-allocated to purchases to preserve other threatened historical natural areas which also include historical structures -- such as St. Saviour's, the Klein Farm, Iris Hill and the former Cornell Farm. What we destroy today cannot be restored tomorrow.

City Hall needs to take a hard look and re-evaluate what needs to be done to preserve natural areas before they cease to exist. This includes re-thinking any plans that threaten natural parks and historic settings such as Ridgewood Reservoir, St. Saviour's, the Klein Farm, Iris Hill and the former Cornell Farm.

Corey Bearak, President, Queens Civic Congress

Fred Kress, President, Queens Coalition for Parks & Green Spaces

A Letter from Kuwait

Dear Editor:

I just wanted to drop a line back to my family, friends and communities of Middle Village and Maspeth from the Sand Sailors of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. It remains a solid 120F in most parts with an occasional spike upwards from there especially out in the remote desert areas. Even the camels have had it! I have been able to enjoy reading up on the news back home as my Mom, Helen Strobel has been faithfully mailing the local papers from Queens that include the "Juniper Berry" provided to her by a good friend from Trinity Saint Andrews Lutheran Church in Maspeth, Donald Steinmaker a member of the JPCA.

I really enjoyed the recent article on John Duddy as I have followed his rise since attending his first professional fight in the Bronx with my brother in-law, Tom McLaughlin, and sister, Nancy, of Middle Village who never miss John's fights. We have a lot of boxing fans here in the Battalion and so I recruited some new fans for John. All the New Yorkers here have enjoyed reading the Juniper Berry keeping up with the local news and of course our neighborhoods history. We have not had any rain or flooding here though and I hope my basement is drying out in Maspeth, again...

Those of us here at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait were fortunate as our new 2008 Chief Petty Officers conducted a 911 Ceremony of Remembrance followed by the ceremonial raising and lowering to half-staff the colors at 15:46 (3:46PM) local time coinciding with the first strike on the Towers at 8:46 Eastern time. The flag ceremony hosted by our Navy SeaBees was exceptionally moving and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Navy.

While everyone here is looking forward to returning home, we especially as Navy Reservists, the Citizen Soldiers of the Armed Forces are especially pleased that as of July 25, 2007 Congress has approved veterans and current members of the Armed Forces out of uniform the Privilege to salute the American Flag. I have encouraged my Sailors to do so. When they salute when others can not they will appreciate the Privilege and the Responsibility we as United States Navy Sailors have been given by those we serve.

Thanks to all the local organizations that keep us in good supply with great stuff every day!

Coming Home – Soon!

Chief Warrant Officer Michael Strobel, USN

Navy Expeditionary Logistics Group

Saving Our Heritage

Testimony before CB5, September 12, 2007

The Historic Districts Council is the advocate for New York City's designated historic districts, individual landmarks and structures meriting preservation. The Council is dedicated to preserving the integrity of New York City's Landmarks Law and to furthering the preservation ethic. We thank Community Board 5 Queens for allowing us the opportunity to testify today on behalf of a request to establish a Community/Cultural/Recreation Center at the former St. Saviour's Church in Maspeth.

I will not go into depth over the historic, cultural and architectural significance of St. Saviour's, as this is a case that has already been strongly made many times. What I wish to point out is that St. Saviour's offers an excellent opportunity to adaptively re-use an important building while serving the community's needs.

St. Saviour's, no longer a church, is in need of a new use, and CB 5 Queens is in need of community facilities and parkland. While PLANYC 2030 calls for the establishment of new parks so that all New Yorkers can live within a 10-minute walk of one and this neighborhood is one of the least served by public parkland, here are two acres of land just waiting for the official title park. For over 150 years, St. Saviour's was the center of the community. For generations, the church offered its grounds as a neighborhood park where children played, factory workers took their lunch breaks and families socialized. Returning the land to such a purpose while using the church and its related structures as community facilities is a chance to preserve a piece of the area's past while giving to its present and future.

Nadezhda Williams

Preservation Associate

Historic Districts Council

The Society for the Architecture of the City is an historic preservation advocacy group, and we have joined in the effort to preserve St. Saviour's Church and the greenspace around it. This block was green open space for the people of Maspeth before Maspeth was part of New York City, and before New York City had a Parks Department. It should stay that way. In fact, Congressman Maurice, for whom Maurice Avenue is named, gave this land just shortly before city government in Manhattan decided that there was a need for public parks, and bought the land to create Central Park, forming the first Parks Commission to supervise building it in 1857—ten years after St. Saviour's was built on a wooded hill overlooking Newtown Creek, near the summer home of DeWitt Clinton, who became governor of New York. Congressman Maurice was a visionary proponent of green space, the St. Saviour's site is historic, and professional conservators (Jablonski, Berkowitz) have surveyed it and determined that the church can be restored. We would urge you to give St. Saviour's a high budget priority, and save this fine historic property for public use.

Christabel Gough

Secretary

Society for the Architecture of the City

Cuckoo Corcoran

Advice by realtor Barbara Corcoran to a Queens homeowner thinking of paving over his garden for a parking spot:

Hey, a flower garden might look pretty and keep your wife happy, but the space in front of your house is worth a hell of a lot more as a driveway...So get your wife on your side and get a cement truck over there fast.

Below is a response to the column.

Dear Ms. Corcoran:

I was shocked to learn of your response in your "Ask Barbara" November 9th column regarding the paving over of front yards. First and foremost, property values decline in neighborhoods where owners/developers are paving over front yards.

You may not realize that your advice to the family to "get a cement truck over there fast" appears to condone actions that are, in fact, illegal.

Please understand that while there has been no law restricting the type of surface a property owner may place on their front yard – it is illegal to park on the front yard. You may park in your garage or on your driveway apron, but not on the traditional front lawn area.

It is also illegal for anyone to pave over a large portion of their yards (front, backyard and side yards) without obtaining a permit from the Department of Buildings. You must also by law, maintain storm water runoff on your own property. Concrete paving affects the run-off and could subject the property owner to further violations.

Green lawns improve property values, help the environment and do not overburden the city storm water system, which was never designed to handle runoff from private property. I have long advocated for regulations to prohibit the paving over of front yards for these very reasons.

Finally, the Department of City Planning has announced new regulations (which you refer to in your column) that would require greenery. It is the right thing to do and I support it.

In the future, please feel free to call me, as Chair of Zoning for the City Council, for more accurate information regarding these types of issues.

Sincerely,

Tony Avella

Chair, Zoning and Franchises

Council Member

District 19-Northeast Queens