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The Civic Scene: CIVIC NEWSLETTERS AND ARTICLES PROVIDE USEFUL INFORMATION

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The February 2001 newsletter of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association (Jim Gallagher,. president) informed the membership that a new senior center is now available at the Ryan Junior High School after hours Beacon Program. There are free Adult Computer classes on Saturday and a Senior Social Center open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. James Ambrose and Jim Janel are in charge. For more information call 445-6983.

The newsletter also reported that Captain Patrick Heaney of the 107th Precinct wants to “rectify dangerous parking problems around schools” when some parents park in the street in front of schools forcing children to pass between cars as they board buses. This is especially dangerous in inclement weather.

He has ordered that anyone parked illegally by a school will be issued a summons, without warning.

Community Board 8 District Manager Diane Cohen stated in her monthly report that the Building Department of Queens has only eight plan examiners, although we are slotted for 12. In Queens there are 21 Quality of Life inspectors who work late hours during the week and on weekends. There are also 17 construction inspectors.

There is a new Department of Buildings Complaint Center where people can call to report illegal conversion or illegal construction on weekends. This new center is for the whole city and it is supposed to make it easier for residents to lodge complaints. The telephone number is 212-227-7000. Operators are available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The DOB says that during other hours, callers will be directed to leave messages to be returned the next business day or given instructions in case of emergencies. I hope that this means that people will be able to get assistance on weekends and during he night. We will see!

Speaking of the Buildings Department, which your columnist has been calling dysfunctional for years, there is the suggestion by the mayor that the Fire Department take over the inspecting functions. Civic association leaders, who have banged their heads against the bungling actions of Buildings for years, have doubts about enforcement of building violations found by Fire Department inspectors. They feel there isn’t enough enforcement now. However, recently the New York Times reported that inspections by firefighters are encoded onto yellow CIDS card, or Critical Information Dispatch System card, which is entered into a computer system available on terminals in all fire trucks.

The article painted a glowing picture of the use of a CIDS cards by firefighters during a fire to pinpoint dangerous conditions. But my question is, if the Fire Department takes over the inspecting duties of the Buildings Department and if illegal conditions are found and put on CIDS cards, will anyone look at them prior to an emergency and will anyone make the owners correct the illegal conditions, and pay a fine, prior to an emergency?

GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK

The Census Bureau is releasing statistics from Census 2000. New York City now has 8,008, 278 people. This is a recorded 9.4 percent jump over the last decade. I still think that many illegal aliens have not been counted. However this recorded jump in population means that the federal government will give us more money to provide services for those who were counted. Queens now has a recorded population of 2,229,379, although anyone looking at the overcrowded schools, buses, subways and streets could have figured that our without a count.

BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK

The price of gasoline has been rising steadily over the past few weeks. It will soon be as high as in Europe. Why has this happened? We hear all kinds of reasons. First our leaders in Washington said that conservation would not ease the shortage; now they say we should conserve fuel. Why isn’t the tax on gasoline higher so there could be more money for mass transportation? Why do we let companies build those SUVs which use so much gasoline without them paying extra fees? Why can’t people use smaller gas-efficient automobiles instead of SUVs? Why can’t we encourage solar or wind energy so we can conserve oil? I thought we had learned our lesson in the 1970s.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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