I had the opportunity to speak to Michael Roemmelt, the new president of the Middle Village Property Owners Association. He succeeds Joe Occhiuto who had a productive eight years as president of the Association.

The thing that strikes you instantly about Michael is his youth and the strong commitment he brings to the job. He is determined to make a difference and after a few minutes with him you know he will succeed.

One of the first orders of business for Michael will be to delineate responsibilities within the different job titles. He feels strongly that if jobs are identified there will be additional involvement from the volunteers. He realizes that all who become active have a full life and work within a civic is one of the biggest stretches a person can make.

To help these beleaguered volunteers Michael said he will try very hard to attract new members. He does not understand why the younger people who have such a stake in the community do not seem to be interested. I assured him that once they have a problem they will come running to their local civic association. I know from my own experience that a civic association is the best grass roots vehicle to wage a fight against adversity. Michael would like to peak their interest before there is a war to fight!

It is refreshing to talk to Michael and see his enthusiasm. We wish him the best of luck in his new endeavor. I did assure him that we in the Juniper Park Civic Association certainly support a spirit of cooperation within our two groups. We have the same big agenda, neighborhood preservation.

Michael Roemmelt is the owner of Michael’s Funeral Home on Metropolitan Avenue and 79th Street in Middle Village. He is married with two children, a dog, parakeet, two rabbits named Buster and Buzz and two goldfish. I would say Michael Roemmelt has a “full plate.” He also has a fierce loyalty to our neighborhood.

Good luck, Michael. You will succeed!

Construction of Juniper Roller Hockey Rink to Commence…Work on Upper Fields to follow.

Construction fences for the controversial Juniper Roller Hockey Rink has been installled. After years of diagreement on the placement of the $600,000 rink, a compromise location was reached with the Parks Department, Councilman Ognibene and the Juniper Park Civic Association. An area in the upper ballfields, parallel to the running track of Brennan Field was selected.

Last year Community Board #5 had proposed an area onthe corner of Lutheran Avenue and Juniper Boulevard North, directly across from homes. Despite strong opposition from the Juniper Park Civic Associaiton.

The JPCA fought hard against the plan saying it would negatively impact the park and residents living near the rink. Councilman Ognibene agreed with the JPCA that the site is unacceptable. Another area was selected on the eastern end of the upper ballfields. But when it was announced that Councilman Ognibene was able to fund the reconstruction of the upper three baseball fields it was learned that the rink, if place on the eastside of the fields , who interfere with a new design for the fields. JPCA president Bob Holden, who also heads the Midville Youth Program, researched baseball field design in the form of a cloverleaf. It was submitted to CB5 and supported by Councilman Ognibene.

Parks Commissioner Henry Stern opposed the layout saying it would be too expensive, would delay the construction of the hockey rink for at least a year and would be unsightly. Holden argued that the new design could be easier to maintain, better for the surounding area, since spectators would be centered in the middle of the park and provide for better baseball fields.

In light of the debacle on the lower fields, where $1 million was spent and the fields still flooded, the cloverleaf plan was selected.