The community drive is for everyone

In the last Berry, I read a fellow resident's note to the editor stating that fences in the community drive shouldn't be as high as six feet. She argued that the community drive is for everyone and it should be safe. On the latter point I entirely agree. There is a rash of people parking their vehicles in the driveway, the back of which exceeds into the community drive. Indeed, there is an easement that rightly prohibits us from blocking any part of the community drive. This must be stopped and enforced. If their vehicle cannot fit fully into their driveway, perhaps it's best to park it in the garage. The author of that fence note was absolutely right when she argued the community drive is for everyone, and should be safe.

Liam L. Castro, Esq., Middle Village

Bottle collectors are a nuisance

What can be done about the relentless number of recycle sorters from outside the neighborhood coming onto our property and going through our recycle bins? It is making neighbors desensitized to strangers on our properties and will eventually increase crime rates. It is also unsightly looking as if we live in a third world country with the recyclers in our streets when they can't fit on the sidewalk. It is a traffic safety concern when we have to go onto oncoming traffic lane to go around them as they do not adhere to traffic safety. One woman literally walks down the center yellow line down on 69th street from Metropolitan to Eliot Avenue.

Rita M., Middle Village

TALL fence

Too-tall fences make bad neighbors. I contacted JPCA a few months ago with regard to my neighbor who had a mess on his property. Thanks to JPCA, the issue was resolved. However, today my neighbor is installing a fence that's higher than 6 feet. It makes the block look terrible. Please advise if there is anything that can be done about it. Thank you very much in advance.

A.A., Middle Village

Edit: Please call 311 to report fence infractions.

Disagrees with opinion piece

To the Editor –
Your OP-ED regarding gay rights was something that discredited your otherwise good reads. I am aware of the arguments pro and con, and have no interest in further debate. This idea that my partner and I devalue the family unit is not only a slam against my sense of dignity; but it furthers an ignorance that actually destroys our collective human ties. I advocate civic duty. I do volunteer work. I am a good neighbor and have extended myself on many occasions to support my neighbors; men, women and children. I do not ask their beliefs or what sexual constellation makes them comfortable. Because I embrace a stable family life, I am able to support good relations we all share in common value. We keep our home clean, do gardening and pay attention to the laws and obligations we all maintain. Never once have I ever felt discrimination from my neighbors and I would guess the majority are conservative thinkers. Perhaps it is simply because they have come to know me. With so many problems out there your choice to further advance harm and mean spirit hurts. I am a neighbor. If you fell and I came up to help you, which I would, would you accept my help? I am a combat Vet of the Vietnam War, I served in two tours recon, not a cake walk. There was some notion I was helping my country with my blood and downed brothers and not pontification. I believe I have earned my rights to walk proudly with what I have done and be allowed to carry myself as a good citizen. I have no agenda but to be a good man and live peacefully in our community.

Jonathan Downing, Maspeth

Edit: Thank you for your service to our country. The op-ed in question was not written by our editorial board, nor does it reflect the opinion of the Juniper Park Civic Association. Op-eds are a time honored expression of freedom of speech and represent only the viewpoint of the writer.

Maspeth Maven Moves to Woodhaven

Accolades are in order for Linda Czerwinski, one of the Queens Borough Public Library͛s most valued, knowledgeable and indefatigable employees. She͛s moved from the system͛s Maspeth branch to its Woodhaven location. Ms. Czerwinski is the consummate modern-day librarian. Linda͛s ability to interact comfortably with the public, remarkable computer skills and overall sense of humor are her most endearing and outstanding assets. Her achievements are evident in her accomplished learners of all ages. This affable, patient and gifted educator exceeds her field͛s standards of professional excellence. ALL QBPL, New York Public Library (NYPL) and school librarians should emulate this vibrant and talented woman.

Stan Parchin, Middle Village

Dealing with the sharing economy

I would be remiss in my duty as a legislator were I not to call immediate attention to the unregulated economy of “sharing services” such as Airbnb. Of course, bad actors can never be isolated by regulation. Still, the big names in the “sharing economy” such as Airbnb, have been granted far more leeway than their traditional counterparts. We need meaningful and appropriate regulation to proactively prevent irresponsible or criminal activity from taking place. As the share economy becomes the norm, we need to take the blurred lines these businesses walk and bold them. The way in which Airbnb operates is vastly different than the operations at a standard hotel; not even the same regulatory framework would suffice to account for these differences. There is no doorman at an Airbnb home. There is no hotel staff to take action and call the authorities, should things get out of hand. The unique business model of sharing services is not a reason to omit regulation. On the contrary, it is a reason to tighten regulation further.

State Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside)

A decade of the Hull House of Horrors

Just a note to say that after 10 years since the Hull Ave. underpinning error causing our foundation wall to be damaged, the case against the developer has been settled. I have to say I am not only disappointed in the developer, I am surprised, awakened and shocked at the court system. In the end I will be in the red.

Do you think I can share this horrible story with others to be aware of what can happen to innocent, hardworking, people in the day and age we live in? Justice is not served.

Disappointed in Maspeth, Ron & Maryann Todzia

Remembering Tom Ognibene

Middle Village has lost one of its greatest leaders. Tom Ognibene will long be remembered as a man who stood up and fought the good fight. He was a long time loyal resident of MV and took great pride in his town as he was always looking to help out the little guy. A small incident of his help was with my mother, Elsie Fischer, who was an original Juniper Civic Board member at one time. My Mom lived a long and active life. One of her favorite events was the Summer Concerts in Juniper. It became difficult for her to climb the steps at 79th Street and Juniper Park North, so with the help of Tom and persistence she was able to get a railing installed on those steps. Now as I age and climb those same steps, I use that railing and think of them. Thank you Tom.

Joyce Beaudoin, Middle Village (former board member)

A befitting honor for Ognibene

It was mentioned by you at the Juniper Park Civic Association meeting of October 29, 2015 that you wanted ideas on how to honor Tom Ognibene. To say that Tom was a great councilman would be an understatement. He was an outstanding community minded man who has assisted All Faiths Cemetery in many issues relative to our dealings with New York City. His untimely passing has saddened all of our staff and community at large. At this time, I would like to suggest that we name one of our cemetery streets adjacent to Christ the King High School in Tom’s honor. We can have a dedication ceremony that is amenable to all his family and friends.

Yours truly,
Daniel C. Austin, Chairman of the Board, All Faiths Cemetery

Assisting an author

Dear Mr. Holden,
I just realized that I forgot to let you know directly that my book Gangland New York: The Places and Facesof Mob History, was published in July. It is the one containing the photo you provided about the old houses of Arnold Rothstein. The book contains a number of entries about Queens. You’re cited in the acknowledgement section and I want to thank you again. The book is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, as well as through other book stores.

Best Regards, Tony DeStefano

In favor of bike lanes

At the last Juniper Civic meeting the DOT plan for bike lanes in the neighborhood was discussed. There were two options for Juniper Blvd. North by the park that were voted on:
A. Cars would park far from the curb to allow for a bike lane in two directions along the curb area then a buffer zone of 4.5 feet between parked cars and the bike lanes.
B. A bike lane would be created in the street in each direction of the traffic. Parking at the curb will be the same.

Everyone voted against A and some were in favor of B but most were against bike lanes altogether.

I have been driving for almost 50 years and have been bicycling a lot longer than that and I would like to say that bike lanes are good for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. Anything that makes the hectic streets of NYC safer is a good idea for all. Bike lanes remind drivers that they share the road and where to expect bikes. As a bicyclist, I feel more secure knowing that drivers are more aware of me. Bike lanes also remind pedestrians to be careful and look for bikes when crossing streets.

Saying this I can say that Option A which the DOT has installed in many area of the city is a terrible plan for all. Five years ago DOT did this by Prospect Park and I got out of my car with two dogs on leash and a few friends. We had bikes coming and going at fast speeds in both directions, getting to the curb was very dangerous; also it was the same getting to my car. Also bikers rarely stop at a red light even to let pedestrians pass. On my bike I saw people not thinking and stepping off the curb; I'm sure there are some bad accidents there.

Why DOT felt Prospect Park needed this setup is beyond me, why two directions. There are many bike paths inside the park and on a one way street they should have all traffic going in the same direction. Many in the neighborhood didn't like the plan and petitioned against it and I think it was taken to court.
If the city wants to promote biking to get people out of cars this is a good idea but it should be done in a safe manor for all.

Richie Polgar, Maspeth

P.S. Has anyone noticed how many streets in the city and our neighborhood that have no lane markings? They have worn off and not been repainted. Maybe while DOT is out driving around looking where to put bike lanes they'll notice this.

Advice for cyclists

It's lovely that there is so much lane space dedicated to bike riders. But, I wish the riders would show themselves properly with sturdy helmets that glow at night, wear a yellow or orange reflective vest, and, have reflectors in the front, back and on the wheels of their bicycles. Be safe, not foolish! It's your life and ours, as drivers of vehicles. Let us see you clearly before we make physical contact that will leave someone hurt seriously or even killed. All lives matter everywhere! Let's be safety conscious everywhere. Thank you and have a great day!

Linda Mircik, Middle Village

Bike Lanes Use & Misuse

Dear Mr. Holden,
During a recent morning commute to Glendale, my bus nearly hit a pedestrian. If this had been an accident, I would have volunteered to make a statement in defense of my driver, who was able to react quickly enough to avoid tragedy.

This near-miss was caused by someone with a serious misunderstanding of how to use the new bike lanes.
At approximately 10 am, our bus passed through the intersection of Juniper North and 80th Street, approaching the bus stop to pick up a passenger. An older jogger, using the bike lane as his personal jogging track, trotted briskly around the corner from Juniper North and directly into the path of our bus.

I was impressed with our driver’s calm but immediate reaction; he avoided the jogger by inches. After this necessary abrupt stop, he slowly eased the bus to the curb and picked up his passenger – while the jogger continued, unphased, to jog along 80th St in the bike lane.

Out of concern for this man’s safety, our driver moved into the left lane and drove slowly as he passed the jogger. He opened the bus door, trying to get the jogger’s attention and urge him to move onto the sidewalk. But the jogger did not stop, or even remove his headphones. He scowled, flourished his middle finger and continued to jog in the right lane.

I have no idea how many laps this man took around Juniper Park, or whether he made it home safely afterward.

While I have no intention of jogging or bicycling around the park, I know there are rules and protocols that require caution, alertness and cooperation on all sides. Unless these rules are universally understood and respected, the new bike lanes are a menace to all. I fervently hope that steps will be taken to protect the safety of those who attempt to navigate this new and confusing traffic area.

Shelia Spencer-Cholewa, Middle Village

Bike lanes endanger people

There's a lot to love about biking: the exercise, the fresh air, the cost savings and, of course, the benefits for the environment. But does it make you healthier? Riding in New York certainly does not, actually it can be deadly. Thanks to all the new and confusing bike lanes, cyclists are left with a false sense of security. Bike lanes and signals have been rushed in all over the city to accommodate a minority of cycling commuters and there has been little or no education to cyclists or car drivers. My son͛s recent experience on Central Avenue at 67th Street in Glendale proves that no matter how careful you are, wearing protective gear, obeying the law, there is still a very good chance that you can get binged or clipped by a car or car door, thrown into the street and then hit by another car. Fortunately, my son was able to survive this nightmare. It is my honest belief that all these new unprotected bike lanes/signs are causing a false sense of security and do not benefit cyclists or drivers.

Kathy Masi, Glendale

BNI Worth a try

Greetings neighbors,
I’ve recently joined an organization, BNI (Business Network International), that builds success through networking with professional people. The people I have met are focused, articulate and successful. Many of the members are in law, real estate and finance. In my first meetings I made contact with an estate and elder law attorney who provided me with critically important legal information. Being with this group makes me think of the Yogi Berra line, “You can observe a lot just by watching”…..and you can learn a lot too.

The philosophy of this organization is built on the idea of “Givers Gain”: By giving business to others you will get business in return. This is predicated on the age old idea of “What goes around, comes around.”

Last year alone members of BNI passed 6.6 million referrals. Which generated over $8.6 billion worth of business for its members! BNI is a professional business and networking organization that allows one person per professional classification or specialty to join a chapter.

Would you like to increase your business by 20%, 30% or as much as 100%? You can see results like this! Some participants have added as many as 50 new clients in the first 2 years!!! Successful businesses depend on word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth is the best advertising there is.

BNI provides a structured and supportive system of giving and receiving business. It does so by providing an environment in which you develop personal relationships with dozens of other qualified business professionals. By establishing this “formal” relationship with dozens of other people, you will have the opportunity to substantially increase your business.

The local chapter of CNI meets every Tuesday at the Nevada Diner at Queens Blvd at 80-26 Queens Blvd at 7AM.
For more information: e-mail me:,

Brendan Ogle, Middle Village