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The Civic Scene: Community Board 8 tackles nabe’s issues

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Community Board 8 is made up of 50 volunteer community members appointed by Queens Borough President Claire Shulman with the advice of the local City Council members.

Employed at the Community Board 8 office are several support staff members who assist people who call about a neighborhood problem or have a question about the rules or regulations of the New York City government. The office is open from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday; an answering machine takes messages when the office is closed. The phone number is 591-6000.

CB 8 District Manager Diane Cohen makes a written and verbal report to the board when it holds its regular monthly meeting on the third Wednesday of the month in the ground floor meeting room of the United Cerebral Palsy at 81-15 164th St. At that time residents can speak on any topic of interest for 2 minutes, the various committees of CB 8 make reports, guest speakers provide information to the group and the full board votes to accept various projects in the community. the votes are essentially advisory to county and city agencies.

In March, Cohen reported that the Federal Aviation Administration, Eastern Region, was holding a series of community scooping workshops on the NY/NJ/Philadelphia Metropolitan Airspace Redesign Project. The FAA is examining ways to develop viable air traffic control alternatives to current operations. The hearings already have been held but the public can comment until June 29 by writing to: Airspace Redesign Project, c/o Mrs. Jackie Brown, PRC, Inc., Mail Stop 6S3, 1500 PRC Drive, McLean, VA 22102, or e-mail at brown-Jackueline@prc.com

In April Cohen reported that she, with CB 8 Park Committee members Martha Taylor and Marc Haken, had met with Cunningham Park Manager Jim Cafaro to explore a new location for the temporary dog run on the western end of Cunningham Park along 193th Street and near 82nd Avenue. Some months ago a number of dog lovers had asked that a dog run be permitted in this location. Members of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association were notified, the general community was notified and a public hearing was held. There was no opposition so temporary permission was granted.

Two problems arose. One was that the people who originally petitioned for the dog run had not been maintaining the location by picking up after their dogs and removing broken glass. The second problem was that this location has many tree roots. A flat, grassy location near the current temporary dog run has been found. There will be an attempt to gain funding for a fence but I am not sure who will maintain the location. There had been talk of putting sawdust on the ground. I hope that the dog lovers will organize to maintain the location since it is for them and their pets. Incidentally, the Cunningham Park dog run is one of the few in Queens and New York City.

St. Joseph Hospital has announced that it has formed a Community Advisory Board. Queens Parks Commissioner Richard Murphy has informed CB 8 that the trees in Kew Gardens will be pruned between July 2001 and June 2002.

GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK

The last coal-fired furnace in a public school in Queens has finally been replaced with a cleaner, oil-burning furnace. This will reduce the level of pollution and thus asthma in Queens. A number of public officials, including Governor George Pataki, Borough President Claire Shulman and Schools Chancellor Howard Levy, took part in a ceremony to celebrate this change. In 1996 the public had voted for the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act which made this possible. I usually vote against these proposed bond acts because of the high interest rates required to pay for them, even if one considers that some produce good results.

BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK

Each month CB 8 prints a sheet listing the Building Permits issued by the Building Department in our board area. The permits are for any type of addition or change to buildings. Some permits are for a playroom, an additional room, legalize a bathroom, legalize cellar partitions, a new storefront, legalize a car port, convert a one family into a 2 family house, disconnect gas piping from the meter, construct a boiler room, legalize rear porches, legalize an attic dormer for storage, to name a few. Why so many changes?

My concern is that the city has permitted architects to “self-certify” the things they build. You know what this might mean. Another concern is that people bought their houses in an area with certain zoning. Will making two-family homes out of one-family homes change the character of the neighborhood? Will people use these changes to create illegal apartments, thus creating fire hazards and “saturation” and lower the quality of life? Are all these permits proper... considering how dysfunctional the Buildings Department has been?

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