Most people have heard the age-old adage “United We Stand Divided We Fall.” However, many of these same people are blind to the fact that this statement has never been truer or more pertinent than it is today. As a member of the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) I see and speak to neighborhood people at the meetings and in my daily affairs. It is not uncommon to hear complaints concerning conditions within our community and how the quality of life has degraded. Residents are disillusioned with the current state of affairs and there is an increasing trend for long time residents to leave the neighborhood.

No longer can we define our neighborhoods as being comprised of multiple generations of families. Various conditions have brought about a revolving door trend where long term residents either leave or where their heirs sell the family home. This escalating trend ultimately results in a turnover to those who do not have any roots or vested interest in the neighborhood but rather to outsiders who are looking to improve their quality of life based on misleading premises.

Once ownership in a community becomes transient, the neighborhood diminishes into a depressed state, where complacency and apathy quickly take hold. We need to be cognizant of this trend, vigilant against it and proactive in correcting its causes because these trends lead to a downward spiral, which has caused the demise of numerous middleclass neighborhoods, ultimately threatening the American way of life. Residents flee to the suburbs on the misguided notion that somehow life is better. However, high taxes and reduced services quickly emerge as the suburban reality and perhaps neighborhoods like Middle Village and Maspeth start looking like the better choice!
Over the past 15 years, I have seen and heard the JPCA fight many battles. They have gone to bat for their neighborhoods and for the rights of its citizens. Not a week goes by when someone on the JPCA Executive Board isn’t fighting with politicians, agency representatives and a myriad of other bureaucrats and private sector representatives over our rights. JPCA hosts their Town Meetings usually at Our Lady of Hope School on Eliot Avenue and 71 Street in Middle Village and it is typically always the same residents in attendance. Others may attend but only when they are faced with an insurmountable problem; in other words the problem hits home. They voice their issue and then disappear from the scene.

Our community is currently facing new issues including escalating overdevelopment and population which is unsustainable, degrading quality of life, exorbitant taxes (both hidden and upfront), reduced services, air and noise pollution, excessive commercial traffic and safety issues just to name a few. Do not complain when the issues hit home, as it is too late. Do not complain after inaction allows the despots to violate your rights, destroy the marketability of your homes ultimately reducing your property value to where you will not be able to sell in order to escape from New York.

The solution is simple. Let your voice be heard. Make sure you register to vote, become informed and involved in your community and stop complaining. The solution to saving your neighborhood lies with you. Remember there is no escape unless you win the lottery! No matter where you move you will be plagued with the indifference you are fleeing. That’s the reality of the 2013 America and trust me, the politicians are watching and gravitating toward those who demand and, most important of all, stick together because truly, divided we fall.