Today’s news:

The Civic Scene: Residents: St. John’s disruptions must stop

For the past few weeks there has been a steady stream of letters, articles and editorials about the unhappiness of the residents who live in the vicinity of St. John’s University. These complaints concern the behavior of some students late at night. At almost every Community Board 8 meeting a homeowner or two complains about the noise made by students during evening hours.

At the April 2002 meeting of CB 8, the Hillcrest Estates Civic Association presented a resolution which was passed, asking St. John’s to take certain actions to make students keep the neighborhood quieter and cleaner; this was in response to some drunken students making noise at night, throwing garbage such as empty beer bottles and cans on lawns, screaming and keeping homeowners awake, verbally taunting residents when they complained, causing heavy car traffic which also increases pollution, and illegally parking their automobiles, such as sport utility vehicles, in front of driveways. This is what happens when any large community facility grows in a quiet residential area.

The surrounding civic associations managed to live more or less in harmony with St. John’s for decades but then, as my son explained, the university decided to become a Division I school, which requires that it have dormitories. This means that a couple of thousand students are living in dorms that were built in the past couple of years. Many of these problems have developed as the dorms were built and as students started living on campus.

The Hillcrest Estates Civic, to the south and west of the school, is experiencing this annoying behavior. And, residents from other civic associations have complained in the past about other university policies. Today the other civics are not complaining like the Hillcrest Estates Civic because the students are not outside their houses. In fact, the Jamaica Estates Association is on such good terms with the university that the civic printed a letter on the front page of its April bulletin thanking St. John’s for a donation of $10,000 to the civics’ patrol, which oversees the eastern border of the campus.

If one expends time, energy and money, problems can be solved. For years patrons from bars along Union Turnpike from Utopia Parkway to 193rd Street disturbed and scared residents. The officers of the 107th Precinct, the Liquor License Committee of CB 8 and various civics took steps which have solved the disruption caused by the bars. St. John’s University should be able to do the same.

I again would like to repeat the statement Congressman Joseph Crowley made at the recent Queens Civic Congress meeting concerning the noise from LaGuardia Airport: “It may never be a good neighbor but we have to make it a better neighbor.” This also applies to our local university. May it be done.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK

Gasoline prices have risen drastically in the past few months; the weak economy and the warm winter had kept heating oil and gas prices low, but with the start of the summer vacation season and the switch from heating oil to gasoline we again are seeing a rise in gas prices. I always have been concerned with the industrial /government/military complex and the tie-in of government officials and the oil industry. I don’t know if I should complain that one facet of our foreign policy is to secure a steady supply of inexpensive crude oil, but I know that we are too dependent on foreign energy.

I have long felt that we should use other sources of energy. There recently has been debate in Congress concerning ethanol, which is a biological source of energy used in the Midwest. We should be doing more to use solar energy, thermal energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, tidal energy and hybrid gasoline engine battery fuel. Even recycling or burning garbage, if it can be done cleanly, will save or produce energy. Some of these sources are inexhaustible. I suspect that some of our older energy industries are preventing, through lobbying, the introduction of cheaper and cleaner sources of energy. We really must get away from our oil dependency. Everyone should lobby for these changes; we want to keep our communities pollution free.

I just read that Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez died in a car wreck in Honduras. Only mentioned in one or two of the reports was that she was driving an SUV. I have mentioned in a previous column that SUVs are unfavorable because they are so big that one can not see through or around them; they use too much gasoline and yet are considered automobiles instead of a trucks; they block views at intersections when parked at corners; and because of their height they have a tendency to turn over when they make sharp turns, especially during highway driving, for which they were not designed. They not only waste gasoline but are dangerous.

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