Not High on Maspeth HS

Dear JPCA:
Listed below please find an email I just sent to Council Member Elizabeth Crowley regarding the proposed HS in Maspeth. Thank you for your commitment to maintaining quality of life in our community. Let me know if there is anything else I can do.

Dear Council Member Elizabeth Crowley:
I am a 25+ year resident of Middle Village and writing to you to express my opposition of the DOE's proposal of building an 1100 seat High School at 57th Ave and 74th Street in Maspeth. Besides the obviously negative environmental impact and traffic congestion in an already overburdened area, the DOE's promise of giving priority seating to the surrounding community has NEVER come to pass. Why should we believe them now?! Large High Schools are dinosaurs and not our future. Smaller charter schools have proven to be more successful and it is this type of school of 350-400 students that should be built not only in Maspeth but throughout NYC.

Maspeth/Middle Village has already done more than its fair share of adding schools by the expansion of IS 73, PS 49 & 128. (PS 128 unfortunately will now be a huge building on what used to be a tranquil neighborhood of mostly single family houses.) Our infrastructure can not sustain the continued overbuilding in this area. I urge you to consider this and thank you for your commitment to our community.

Elise Mora
Middle Village

Will You Make It to Elmhurst Hospital?

To the Juniper Berry:
Please do all you can to make people aware that we do face the closure of our community hospital, St Johns. We need this facility, especially the elderly and the chronically ill. If you experience cardiac or respiratory difficulty, do you think you can make it to Elmhurst in time? I doubt it!!!

Jean Cacioppo

Not a Grand Plan

Dear Juniper Berry Editor,
First, let me thank you for publishing my previous letter to Community Board 5. Since then, we all know that the island between Grand and Flushing Avenues has been reconfigured by DOT. This is great for the trees added, although I noted that Parks people just planted them over the gravel left from the construction and just covered the holes with planting soil. Also, it is very bad for the S-turn created, especially for trucks turning from Grand Avenue (which should force the DOT to finally implement the Maspeth bypass plan) and the loss of the Chamber of Commerce signs. Are they going to be replaced?

I noticed that the 64th Street-Flushing Ave bus stop is SKIPPED by the Q59 bus, even though with its new route, it enters Flushing Ave BEFORE the stop. Is it because the bus stop is too close to the corner of 64th Street, and Flushing Ave can be potentially clogged when two buses, maybe three, (Q58 and 59) pick up/drop passengers at the bus stop at the same time? I wonder how bad it can be if two or more buses are stopped there and a huge truck is turning from Grand Avenue? Since the reconfiguration, I have been waiting for a Q59 sign to be added to the
pole on the bus stop, but it has not happened. Maybe because of the above reason?

What a disappointment for waiting commuters who get skipped and “snubbed” by the Q59. Therefore, is relocating the bus stop a few meters away closer to 65th St to allocate more space still necessary to address my concern? Any idea what is going on?

Ramon Bautista

Haspel Staab: No Noise is Good Noise

To the Editor:
The last few editions of the Berry have carried letters from one of the neighbors of the Haspel Staab VFW Post 551, Mr. DeSanto. These letters have brought many accusations against the Post claiming loud noise and uncharitable actions. As a member of the Post, I feel that it has become necessary to address many of these unfounded accusations.

More importantly, I believe that many of the things in Mr. DeSanto has written against the Post are not based in fact and smear the good name of a bona fide charitable organization.

Firstly, I would like to address some of the claims made by Mr. DeSanto in his latest letter. He mentions that the Post receives a sum of $10,000 a year from “taxpayer money to fund its operations. ”This is an inaccuracy. The sum that Mr. DeSanto mentions is a grant that the Post applies for that is strictly for renovations and which must be based upon collateral. This money does not “fund (the Post’s) operations” as Mr. DeSanto claims. In the past, we have used this money to make repairs on our building such as replacing the door facing Mr. DeSanto’s home with a more soundproof model as well as putting soundproof insulation on the exhaust fan on that side of the building.

The alleyway that Mr. DeSanto mentions in his letter is not often used for parties. The main function for this area is the cooking. There has been however, one instance of a party in that area. On Memorial Day, a veterans holiday, the Post, a veterans organization, hosted an early afternoon barbecue for our members and their families. Mr. DeSanto did not approve of veterans celebrating Memorial Day in such a fashion, yelling from his upstairs windows complaining about the noise. The question is, is that noise unreasonable coming from an afternoon barbecue on a national holiday?

Post 551 is a charitable organization and Mr. DeSanto’s claims otherwise are completely unfounded. As an organization, the Post does a lot of good for the community and especially for the servicemen serving abroad. In fact, some of the parties that are mentioned by Mr. DeSanto are in fact fundraisers for the servicemen and women, with 100% of the proceeds going to our troops fighting abroad. The insinuation that the VFW Post is not “setting an example for the men and women returning from Iraq” is highly insulting and simply wrong. Our organization functions with the sole purpose of serving these valiant men and women while they protect our freedoms abroad as well as when they return home.

While I admit that some of Mr. DeSanto’s complaints about the noise from weekend night parties in the hall may be justified, the time of day and level of noise is carefully monitored with our neighbors in mind. Due to the fact that the Post is responsible for its own operating expenses, unlike what Mr. DeSanto claims, the Post needs to rent out the hall to help meet these expenses so that the Post’s charitable functions may continue.

As I have mentioned earlier, the Post has paid for expensive work to replace the door through which the sound comes in an unsuccessful attempt at appeasing Mr. DeSanto.

Finally, I would like to address our neighbors. The Post has tried to maintain a good rapport with our neighbors because one of the cornerstone principles of our organization is that of community. Many of our neighbors are members as well. I have never seen the petition that Mr. DeSanto claims that 41 neighbors of the Post have signed. I believe that this friction with Mr. DeSanto are motivated by reasons not related to simple loud noises and this confrontation has gone on for generations between the DeSantos and the Post. Only recently has Mr. DeSanto been able to aggressively bring the charge of loud noise against the Post in the hopes of satisfying his vendetta.

These antagonizing and slandering letters have been smearing the good name of VFW Haspel Staab Post 551 for many months now. The real question is, is Mr. DeSanto willing to be a good neighbor?

Daniel J. Galvin
Middle Village
Korean War Veteran and 35 year supporter of the Haspel Staab VFW Post 551

Editor’s Note:
Contrary to Mr. Galvin’s representation, the Juniper Berry has published only one letter from Mr. DeSanto, which appeared in its December 2008 edition. Moreover, although Mr. Galvin claims the VFW Post “has tried to maintain a good rapport with our neighbors,” we point out to our readers that the Post refused to attend a meeting JPCA arranged with neighbors to attempt to resolve this dispute. The controversy does not concern indoor affairs or a few parties — the Post has filed an Application with the State Liquor Authority to bring its parties/drinking outside with no restrictions on the number of parties. Finally, the Berry notes that Mr. Galvin lives 11 blocks from the Post.

Supports Our Efforts

Dear Lorraine:
I am the sister of Judith LaBella who, I am sad to say, passed away in March. I am now the owner of record of her residence. I was in New York for four months to tend to matters but have returned to my home in Georgia. I support your endeavors of the JPCA and have enclosed a check for $20. While it would be a waste to send the meeting notices, I do enjoy the community magazine and can pick up on “what’s happening” via the website. I do ask that you not send any mailings to the 74th Street address.

Thanks you for your help. I admire what the association is trying to accomplish and wish it every success.

Lois Hartmann
Marietta, Georgia

Dear Lois:
Please accept our condolences on the passing of your beloved sister, Judith. Judith was a member of the JPCA for many years and she would be pleased to know that you remain interested in the events in her hometown, Middle Village. I have added your name to our membership list and you should start receiving your Juniper Berrys in 2009. Thank you for your kind words and continued interest in the JPCA.

Lorraine Sciulli

To the Editor:
Enclosed please find my check for $20 as a new member. I also would like to ask you to send a copy of the December 2008 issue to my home. You see my husband and I lived in Maspeth and Middle Village at one time and when we saw a copy of this magazine we saw a photo of family and old friends. We loved it. So we would like to have this copy and all copies of your magazine.

Thank you,
Mrs. Helen Downing
East Meadow, NY

Losing the War on Graffiti

Juniper Civic Association;
As a long time resident of Middle Village, it is very disappointing to see that we are losing the War against
Graffiti. I have recently become a victim of this Crime. My backyard fence has become an easel for graffiti artist at least four times in the last two months.

I called 311 to report the first incident. I was told it was a 911 call. I called 911 and my call was flipped to 311. I called the 104 precinct and was told it was a 911 call. Don’t any city personnel know who is to be called for graffiti?

My first call produced two police officers and their sergeant. They filled out a complaint form and it never made it into their system. After another occurrence of graffiti, I called the precinct, who dispatched another police car to my house. The 104 officers told me that the graffiti on my back fence “wasn’t too bad.” “You should see what other people have to put up with.” I was told that I should be more proactive to deter the ‘artist’ by putting a light on my house. There is a streetlight right by my back fence, which is not deterring anyone. After discovering the last incident of graffiti, I called the 104, and I was told to call back after 3:30pm, when the graffiti officer came in. I cannot wait to see what he has to say. I am aware that the ‘artists’ use ‘tags’ to identify themselves. Isn’t there a way to create a database to link these vandals with their “tags” in an attempt to stop this crime?

I was once told by a police officer that the thing that made Middle Village a nice neighborhood was that people take care of their property here. Therefore, to sit back and watch the 104 act as they cannot do anything about the graffiti is very disheartening.

Name Withheld on Request

BSA Cell Tower Bull

The following letter is from the Board of Standards and Appeals to Mr. Leonard Santoro of Middle Village.

Dear Mr. Santoro:
We are in receipt of your letter in which you express your disappointment in the Board’s approval of the special permit for a proposed telecommunications pole located at 53-20 72 Place in Maspeth, Queens (BSA Cal No. 205-07-BZ). As you know, the Board held five public hearings on this application, with testimony from surrounding neighbors and elected officials. The Board is required in granting a special permit to determine, under Zoning Resolution Section 73-30, “that the proposed location, design, and method of operation of such tower will not have a detrimental effect on the privacy, quiet, light and air of the neighborhood.” In response to concerns raised by neighbors, the application was revised to reduce the diameter of the pole from 36” to 32”, and the height of the pole from 25’-0” to 13’-0”. In addition, as requested by neighbors, the proposed flag and lighting were eliminated from the proposal.

Your letter questions why the public hearing was not heard locally and if members of the Board visited the location. The Board hears and votes on approximately 30 applications at its public hearings, and the applications are for projects in all five boroughs. Given the volume of applications, site specific hearings for each application are unfortunately not feasible. However, please be aware that the location and surrounding neighborhood of this application was visited by members of the Board.

Meenakshi Strinivasan

Grand Ave Truck Bypass

Dear Commissioner McCarthy,

It was nice to finally meet you at the Elmhurst Hospital Pedestrian Safety Summit a few weeks ago, and to hear about the great work the DOT is doing in Queens. I am writing to inform you of an issue on Grand Avenue in the heart of Maspeth, Queens.

St. Stanislaus School, located at 61-17 Grand Avenue, is part of the Safe Streets to School program and is slated for pedestrian improvements that are already underway. The community will greatly benefit from these improvements. However, the benefits will be compromised if the volume of large trucks on Grand Avenue is not reduced.

Grand Avenue currently holds the designation of a through truck route and carries a high volume of 18-wheeler freight trucks taking a short cut from the Long Island Expressway to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

The Juniper Park Civic Association received a commitment via paper correspondence from the former DOT Commissioner, Iris Weinshall, to reroute the trucks on Grand Avenue. The proposed route would take the trucks through light manufacturing zones in Maspeth, rather than through the main street heart of Maspeth.

Given that the high volume of through trucks would significantly impair the benefits of the Safe Streets to School program for St. Stanislaus, we ask the DOT to reroute current through trucks on Grand Avenue.

We want every Safe Streets to School project to succeed in every community and it would be a shame if it didn’t in Maspeth because of the through truck route. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Paul Steely White, Executive Director
Shin-pei Tsay, Deputy Director
Transportation Alternatives

Unleashed Dogs Take Over Park

Dear JPCA:
I live in Rosebank, Staten Island and I run/walk 3-4 times per week in a park called Arthur Von Briesen Park that has the off-leash law. Unfortunately, the dogs and their owners have taken over the park to the point that other users avoid the one path in the park because of the dogs.

Yesterday, I was charged upon by a pit bull whose owner did not care that I wanted the dog to stop. My attempts at discussion about controlling the dogs was met with a verbal barrage from all the owners.

Today, I was threatened and harassed by the dog owners and told that they would follow me to me home. I called the police who treated me as if I did something wrong by being in the park before 9 am. Calls, etc. to 311, Parks Dept., PEP, all ignored. I am afraid that I or someone else in the park will be attacked assaulted. I am reaching out for help and guidance.

Robert Valinoti
Staten Island