The following letter was printed in Newsday, June 25, 2001 and sent to us by Councilman John Sabini:

Dear Editor:
Newsday recognizes illegal apartment conversions for what they are: a threat to residents' safety and to the quality of life in the borough of Queens (“Constant Vigilance Needed on Apartment Conversions,” Viewpoints, June 14). It is wrong to suggest that illegal housing is harmless and that vigilant enforcement is somehow unfair to certain communities.

Enforcement is driven not by agency investigations, but by citizen complaints. And, given the size and scope of the problem and its impact on the delivery of city services, strict enforcement is clearly warranted. It is not by chance that western Queens, with its large percentage of illegally converted homes, also has the city's most overcrowded schools and that new school construction cannot keep pace with the growing population. Nor is it coincidental that the area's street litter baskets, where the residents of illegal housing are often ordered to dump their trash, are overflowing with bags of household waste, dirtying the streets.

The 2000 Census is most revealing. While Queens experienced the largest population rise among the five boroughs, housing construction here was minimal. Illegal apartments accounted for a great portion of the increase, and resulted in an ever-larger number of tenants living in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.

If anything, enforcement of illegal conversions should be more vigilant, not less.

Councilman John D. Sabini
Jackson Heights

Ladies & Gentlemen,
I am a runner and part of a large community of long-time users of the Juniper Valley Park running track (at least 10 years). It has been such a great asset to have the running track finally upgraded to its present state. With the summer months now under way and the children home from school (no homework!), we are seeing the park, especially the running track part of the park used much more. There are now many groups of teams at the track from soccer leagues as well as joggers and runners, all sharing this great space. And with this wide popularity, there are more chances of accidents, especially the bystanders (friends and relatives) who unintentional stand on the inner lanes of the running track watching the soccer match. There have been numerous close calls of collision between a runner and bystanders, especially small children almost colliding on the track. While running a few years ago, I actually injured a small girl when she ran right into the running lane as a group of us was practicing on the track.

To avoid this type of situation, can we have the Parks Department hang some signs by the fence at the track seats which request non-runners to not stand in the inner running area. Please keep the inner 2 lanes clear for runners. This type of sign exists at other city run tracks and keeps everyone safer.

James Ng

Dear Editor:
Here is how my family and I remember part of the area in Elmhurst that is expected to be changed into Middle Village.

Before the so-called “Great Wall” of the LIE was built and the Elmhurst gas tanks were in existence, an abundance of large green hills covered the land. They stretched as far as 60 Avenue to Grand Ave and from 85 St to the Queens Center Mall. Up until the late 1930’s, there were a lot of Italian goat herders from Corona who brought their goats to graze on these hills. This is where its name, Nanny Goat Hill, came from. My Grandmother told me the goats would chase people walking on their hills.

Also, in the 1970’s the children named the area of 60 Ave and 60 Road between 85 and 86 Street, Suicide 1 and Suicide 2. This was because many of the cars parked there would lose their emergency brakes, and also because kids would get hurt sleigh riding there.
How times change.

Paul N. Roseburg

Dear Editor:
My eldest child is becoming of age to go to Juniper Valley Park without me (with friends during a reasonable hour). Those signs (no adults allowed unless in the company of a child) in the children’s playground, proves to me that the JPCA cares about my child. Thank you.

Jane Dagostino
Middle Village

The following letter from Parks Commissioner Stern is a response to JPCA President Bob Holden complaint about unleashed dogs at Juniper Valley Park. 6/26

Dear Mr. Holden:
Thank you for your e-mail regarding unleashed dogs in Juniper Valley Park.

As summer approaches and the weather gets warmer, park use increases and so do the number of dogs being walked off leash. You are correct in understanding that there is an off-leash courtesy extended between the hours of 9:00pm and 9:00am. However, this is only a courtesy and summonses can be issued if a dog is unleashed and out of the owner's control. Further, if the park closes at 9:00pm, no one is allowed to enter the park after that time.

I have asked our Queens Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) to detail a patrol to Juniper Valley Park in an effort to reduce the amount of unleashed, out-of-control dogs during the early morning hours.

If you have any further questions regarding parks enforcement, please call our Queens PEP Captain Andre Greenfield at (718) 699-4273. If you ever require immediate assistance within our parks, call our 24-hour hotline at (800) 201-PARK.

It was good of you to take the time to write.

All the best,
Henry J. Stern

Dear Editor:
Both Juniper Boulevards North and South are used by drivers passing through the area because they are convenient thoroughfares without interruptions except one traffic light at 72nd Street and J. B. South. In order to discourage drivers from using these boulevards as if they were parkways and to make it safe for pedestrians, especially children, it is necessary to install a series of stop signs along both J. B. North and South. They should be placed at the various access locations such as 79th and 77th Streets and 75th Place on J. B. North, and 78th, 76th and 74th Streets on J. B. South. Three of these are entrances to playground areas used by children. Stop signs would force drivers to slow down and stop, and prevent constant speeding, and allow pedestrians to cross safely into the park without having to dodge speeding cars. Raised medians will only reinforce the “parkway” feel of J. B. North and South and will not discourage speeding. Traffic lights also encourage speeding by drivers trying to “make the lights” The stop signs will slow down the drivers passing through as well as the drivers cruising around the park, and make it safer for everyone.

Thanks for listening,
Paul Nietzschmann
Middle Village

Dear Editor:
With the process of dismantling the Elmhurst Gas Tanks nearing competition, everyone is wondering what will become of the property. I would like to suggest that it be made into a park.

First of all if you look on a map there aren’t many large parks in our area and the increased population in Queens will make another park all the more needed. I’ve seen reports that claim New York has less open space than most large cities.

When I was growing up in this neighborhood there were lots we could play ball on–now they are all gone.

The land next to the gas tanks used to be a ballfield until the telephone company developed it.

I think the location is good for a park, it is in a residential area and is located right on Grand Avenue near public transportation. It is also a good distance from Juniper Valley Park and Maurice Park.

An argument against commercial development is that the area is already overcrowded with Edwards mini-mall and Restaurant Depot and Stop & Stor. In the future there will be more people, malls & cars, one and two family homes are making way for apartment houses. We must have this vision to preserve open spaces with trees and grass, with playgrounds and all fields where children can play safely.

Thank you,
Richard Polgar