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

Originally published in the December 2016 Juniper Berry Magazine

Letters to the Editor

The only color de Blasio sees is green

Being a Hispanic man, in true sense, a Puerto Rican and born in NYC, which in a way, makes me a "Nuyorican", it displeasures, annoys and irritates me when this impostor of a mayor, De Blunder and his fraud of administration accuses the passionate and well-built community of Maspeth as racist.

Mayor De Bacle, we are not racist. We are a group of individuals that share the same values, the same importance, the same influence, the same needs, the same quality of life and good of our community and every community in New York City.

On the other hand, you and your administration are sharing an entirely contrasting crusade. What's going on in your "administration" is a means of benefiting, profiting, gaining, enhancing and furnishing yourself, DHS, Acacia Network and your business ties with hotels. You and your cohorts are taking advantage of the state of homeless in NYC.

You and your administration see one color, the color of GREED/GREEN.

We, as a community, as a group, as a family, as friends, visualize ALL colors of black, brown, white, etc...

We, as a community, as a group, as a family, as friends, are assisting, aiding and taking the appropriate means to improve the homeless situation. We are out there making a difference and altering your plans to house the homeless in tiny, kitchen-less, restricted, hazardous, dangerous and inconvenient hotels.

We are in view of giving hope to the homeless and encouraging a second chance to the homeless to start a better life and gaining confidence for themselves.

We protest, march, chant, demonstrate and rally against your inadequate and unsuccessful policies.

We are compassionate for SOLUTIONS.

Ray Montalvo, Maspeth

Vietnam Veterans want St. James landmarked

Dear Editor, Please be advised that the Queens Chapter #32 of Vietnam Veterans of America (QVVA) is also interested in the future of the Old St. James Church in Elmhurst (Summer '16 Juniper Berry).

For several years QVVA utilized this building for our meetings and headquarters. When we first moved into the building it was in terrible condition. Over time our members did a lot of renovation work. Thanks to members of Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers the entire electrical system was rebuilt and upgraded. The rear addition containing the kitchen and bathrooms was totally renovated. Thanks to a generous donation the large interior floor was rebuilt and retiled by our members, including myself. One of our members, who was a bridge painter, brought in equipment and we re-plastered the ceiling and walls and then painted them. Having done all this work we were glad to see that further improvements were made by the Episcopal Diocese and fully support any efforts to insure that this historic building is maintained for our community.

If we can be of any assistance, please let us know, thanks.

John Rowan, President & CEO, Vietnam Veterans of America

Past Pres. QVVA

Crowley comes up $99.5M short in funding light rail on the Lower Montauk Branch

NYC Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley's recent tour of her proposed Montauk LIRR Branch Light Rail project corridor was little more than a great photo op but little else. Receipt of $500,000 in the 2017 municipal budget to fund a feasibility study for introduction of a light rail train on portions of the old Long Island Rail Road Montauk branch (Long Island City to Jamaica) sounded great on paper. As always, the devil is in the details. Who will come up $99.5 million or more to pay for the balance of project costs?

Even with a planning feasibility study, millions more will be needed to pay for environmental documents along with preliminary design and engineering followed by final design and engineering efforts necessary to validate any basic estimates for construction costs. Ms. Crowley's belief that it would be under $100 million doesn't add up. New Jersey Transit's Hudson Bergen Light Rail cost $1.2 billion and Newark Elizabeth Light Rail cost $694 million 16 years ago. Clearly costs would be far greater in today's dollars.

There are no dollars programmed to support any work for advancement of this project contained with the approved MTA's $27 billion Five Year 2015 – 2019 Five Year Capital Plan. Ditto for the MTA 2014 – 2034 Twenty Year Capital Needs Assessment Plan.

Cost estimates would have to be refined as progress proceeds beyond the planning and environmental phases into real and final design efforts. History has shown that estimated costs for construction usually trend upwards as projects mature toward 100% final design. Progression of final design refines the detailed scope of work necessary to support construction. The anticipated final potential cost would never be known until completion. Costs would be further refined by award of construction contracts followed by any unforeseen site conditions and change orders to the base contracts during the course of construction.

The proposed route will traverse several neighborhoods impacting thousands of people living nearby. How will they react to potential noise and visual impacts? There are serious legal and operational issues to be resolved with the Federal Rail Road Administration. They have regulatory jurisdiction over significant portions of the proposed route which would run on existing active freight tracks. You have to deal with light rail and freight trains coexisting on the same narrow corridor. There is no available project budget to justify key project component costs. They would have to cover a series of new stations. These will have to meet the Americans Disability Act (ADA) access standards; grade crossing, signal and safety improvements, a fleet of new light rail vehicles, land acquisition, potential business relocation along with construction of a new maintenance, operations and storage yard to support any light rail car fleet. Which neighborhood will want to step forward and host the maintenance, operations and storage yard? Other Queens elected officials, transit riders and transit advocacy groups all have their own transportation priority projects which may conflict with this proposal.

The MTA NYC Transit in 1983 conducted the Queens Subway Options feasibility study for potential conversation of this LIRR branch to a subway on the ground. Intense vocal local community opposition killed this project before it progressed beyond a planning study. The same community opposition has already begun for introduction of any active light rail as well.

You would have to wait for approval of MTA's next Five Year 2020 – 2024 Capital Program for any chance of MTA funding. The alternative would be 100% NYC funding which is very doubtful. Rather than spend several hundred million dollars to build a Light Rail system which could take a decade or more, why not ask the LIRR to resume service on this corridor? They could run a two car scoot service reconnecting Long Island City, Glendale and Middle Village with other communities including Richmond Hill and other intermediate stops to Jamaica. The LIRR could use existing equipment which would afford far early implementation of service versus Light Rail. This would provide connections east bound to the J/Z and E subway lines, Kennedy Airport via Train to Plane and Jamaica LIRR Station. Queens residents traveling to jobs and colleges in Nassau and Suffolk counties would have access to all LIRR branches except the Port Washington line. Ditto for those traveling to the Barclay Center and downtown Brooklyn via the LIRR Atlantic Avenue branch. There would also be connections west bound at either Hunters Point or Long Island City LIRR stations to the #7 subway line.

Sincerely,

Larry Penner

(Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years in the transportation field for US DOT Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office)

Dangerous intersection

Good day, I tried finding an e-mail address at NYC DOT to send this message to but could not find one. I live on Eliot Ave at the bottom of the hill. I have personally witnessed two accidents and nearly was hit myself due to cars jumping the light or not properly seeing the light under the LIRR.

Roseann Boyd, Middle Village

Sewer construction parking frustrations

I am reaching out to you for assistance. I am appalled. I received a parking ticket on the first day of No Parking on my block once again; this time being for the next 3.5 -4 weeks....6am ‒ 6pm...(as indicated in your emails and printed notifications)

We TOTALLY understand all the work being done in our neighborhood .

We TOTALLY understand that in the end it will benefit our quality of life so to speak.

We are very cooperative all of the time.

The total job is estimated to be completed April 2018. It has only just begun, but within this short time period we have had:

to turn our water off for 2.5 weeks 8:30 ‒ 4:30 daily

We lost electric 2 evenings for 4 hours each time.

One of those days when we were without water in August we lost our gas line and workers were in and out of our home the entire day.

Last weekend there was a water main break in the middle of the street between our home and the home across from us (which prompted me to call 311). At that time we had people in our house again inspecting.

The water main across the street had to be replaced on Friday all day long.

No one reimburses us for these issues that are clearly not our fault.....There are no credits issued to anyone....but we can get parking tickets on our block the first day of a 3.5-4 week when the work day is over....no one there....?!?!?!??!?! ABSOLUTELY ABSURD....

We are original homeowners...not renters, not transients....We live here our entire lives....We know the deal (rules ‒ regulations). How dare someone ticket us for parking in front of our door after the workday of the city contracted services has been TOTALLY COMPLETED....NO ONE WAS ON THE BLOCK AT THE TIME I PARKED. There was NO WORKERS ‒ NO INUSE EQUIPMEN WHATSOEVER AFTER 4PM yesterday, September 26, 2016. NOTHING....

I put in my own a full day's work yesterday and came home to nonsense, undo stress and aggravation.

Again, the written notices and emails from your offices state no parking 6am ‒ 6pm.

At the corner of 74th and Pleasantview St. signs were put up on the trees ....No Parking 6am ‒ 6pm....When you get down closer to 74th St & Penelope St. and my home the No

Parking signs put up on our trees (that seem to be older than myself) they read No Parking 7am ‒ 7pm....?!?!??!??!?!??!? I did take note that the other vehicles that were parked on the block at the same time also ticketed...except the vehicles that had NYPD and NYFD stickers in the window....We are NYPD ---just didn't advertise....

We the homeowners are being TOTALLY inconvenienced in many, many ways....THIS IS VERY UNFAIR. THERE SHOULD BE NO TICKETING FOR THIS IS AN ISSUE THAT NEEDS IMMEDIATE ADDRESSING. My household has 3 cars and all three cars are not on the block as indicated in the emails and flyers. That is being honored as it should be. We understand being ticketed if we left our cars on the streets for the day........but it was the end of the work day .....THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING GOING ON ON MY BLOCK FROM 4PM YESTERDAY, SEPTEMBER 26TH!!!!!! Work was completed for the day.....(and there was no work being done even close to my house the entire work day).

Your attention to this issue is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

The Gennaris

LIE is not noisy enough

Dear Congresswoman Meng and Senator Addabbo, Jr.,

This is in response to your letter to Commissioner Driscoll dated January 26, 2016, which was not directly received by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) at that time but was shared recently by the Washington office asking to respond to the letter. The letter was on behalf of Robert Holden, President of the Juniper Association and his concern about the noise level at the concrete section of the Island Expressway (LIE) between Queens Boulevard at Exit 20 and Maurice Avenue.

This section of the LIE was designed and constructed using a European Concrete Pavement system with a 50 year service life with no asphalt resurfacing. Other sections of the LIE between Maurice Avenue and Queens Boulevard have noise walls and along do not as a result of analysis indicating they were warranted and approved by the residents during the reconstruction of the LIE. Noise walls are installed as part of Capital Project Reconstruction program when the project meets the criteria under the Federal Noise Regulation 23 CFR 772. These guidelines indicate that noise studies and noise abatement evaluations are conducted as part of a new major construction of highways or bridges or a reconstruction that will significantly change the horizontal or vertical alignment or increase the number of through traffic lanes of an existing roadway.

We do not have any planned projects along this corridor. Please feel free to contact me or Assistant Commissioner George Paralemos at 718-482-4526 if you have any additional questions or concerns on this or other transportation-related issues.

Sincerely,

Sonia A. Pichardo, P.E., Regional Director, NYSDOT

Consumers are losers when it comes to bag tax

Winners of bag tax are store and bag manufacturers. Losers are consumers. The amount of plastic bags used annually will diminish very little with this ordinance. If the city wants to decrease pollution and money, why not uphold the laws enacted many decades ago. Outlaw food and drink on the subways and buses. The enforcement was stopped many decades ago because the spineless politicians taught it would be politically incorrect.

Let's stop making special exceptions for special segments of the population. We will all win in the end.

HUGH MCCAUL, Middle Village

Beware of donation scam

I would like to make the residents of Middle Village and surrounding communities aware of clothing drive scams being done on our generous giving communities. For years now I would receive flyers at my door to donate clothes to help their charity organizations such as Cystic fibrosis or the ASPCA. After recently donating clothes to JC Clothing Drive and was told it helps support the ASPCA I decided to contact the ASPCA directly to find out if this was true. I sent the ASPCA all the information of this companies claim of their support of them and was told that in fact, they were not donating any money at all to the ASPCA and they have contacted JC Clothing Drive to cease and desist using the ASPCA logo on their flyers. In the future I will only be donating to the local schools, churches or reputable entities such as the Salvation Army. No longer will I be donating to these so called charity donating companies that put flyers on my door.

Signed,

James Shannon, Middle Village

Looking to remain in Middle Village

Hello there,

I have lived in Middle Village for almost 30 years. I rented my first apartment on Penelope, after moving out from my parents' home. I love it here and can't think of any other place that I would rather live. My job is in a beautiful area of Nassau County, with amazing greenery and lots of parking, yet after work, when I approach the street that I live on, I breathe a sigh of contentment.

It is so good to be home. I have never been in a financial situation to buy property, so I rent.

Unfortunately, the home I have been living in for the past nine years is for sale. Today was the first day of strangers milling through my home with the real estate agent to consider purchasing the house. I have cried every day since I found out that the house was for sale. I also began the arduous task of looking for a place to live. I did not realize that in the past nine years, I have been priced out of living here. $1,700 for a one bedroom apartment? What? I already work two jobs and can barely pay my very reasonable rent of $1,100. What can I do? Where am I going to go? This is my home, the area I feel safe to be a single woman.

Any advice on how I can stay here, at home? Does anyone want to rent reasonably to a great tenant and her two adorable cats?

Just thought I would reach out for help.

Thanks for taking the time to read my plight.

Sue Mangot, Middle Village

Thanks for assistance with tree problem

Dear Mr. Holden,

My neighbors and I have been trying for three years to get a huge dead tree on 70th Street and Juniper Boulevard South to be cut down. The tree has lost many branches which dent our cars. In fact anyone that lives on our block will not take the parking space under the tree, even out of desperation when no others spots are available. Besides our own houses and lives we also fear for the safety of the parents and children that walk by on their way to school at P.S./I.S. 128, a block away.

Many time-consuming phone calls have been made to 311, yielding no results. We also get the same response, the tree has been examined and there is nothing wrong.

Clearly, the examiners don't know that a tree is considered dead when it is bare in the spring and summer.

We have even approached the tree personnel in charge of checking for the presence of the Asian Long-horned Beetle. They agreed that the tree was clearly dead. However their hands were tied because it was not their department. However they were willing to write in their report not to have the tree sprayed so we didn't need to breathe unwarranted pesticides, sprayed onto a leafless, branch-falling, bark-decaying tree.

After much despair and frustration it was you Mr. Holden who came to our rescue not within 30 days, 60 days or three years. You immediately notified me that you had contacted the necessary Parks personnel and you wrote a letter explaining the obvious dangers. Thanks to you the tree has been scheduled to be cut down. You were instrumental in getting the task done. We cannot thank you enough for listening to the homeowners of 70th Street and helping to keep the Middle Village area one of the last jewels of the city. The only question we would like to ask is... why aren't you running for a community or city office? We can certainly use more proactive, intelligent people helping and making important community decisions. Thanks again and we will be sure to notify you when the tree comes down.

Respectfully yours,

C. Sforza & 70th Street Residents, Middle Village

A message from our next assembly member

It has been a long journey from the day I originally declared I was running for the New York State Assembly. From Day 1, Juniper Civic has been nothing but supportive. I wanted to write this letter to thank all the members. I truly believe and I have been told by many other civic organizations as well, that Juniper Civic is one of the best civics in New York. The dedication of its members is unquestioned and is noticed throughout New York City. I also want to thank Bob Holden and the rest of the board for their leadership. Other civic organizations would be very lucky to have the kind of leadership that Bob and the other board members bring to the table. I look forward to working with you all in doing what is right for the community. I will stand up against the developers and the politicians who are looking to radically alter the neighborhood. We cannot sit idly by while families who have lived in the neighborhood for generations feel they must move away. For too long, seniors and the middle-class have been ignored by the politicians. I will fight to give these groups a voice.

One of the big reasons why I ran for office was because I felt the politicians ignore us. If someone had a problem in the community, they would be told to call 311 and would be forced to navigate the government bureaucracy alone. You should be able to speak to your representative directly. If you do have issues or concerns, you should always feel free to reach out to me. My personal number is 917-363-7081. My email is Barnwell2016@gmail.com.

Thank you again for your support. I truly appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Brian Barnwell, Assembly Member-elect, District 30

Hello from Florida

I've enclosed a check in the amount of $25 covering the membership dues for the year 2017.

Always enjoy reading the Berry that is full of great memories. Back in 1939 (the Juniper Berry) was only 1 page. All the volunteers are doing a great job.

Sincerely,

Ellen Buhre, Boynton Beach, Florida