Bayside civic to fight city’s leash policy

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The East Bayside Homeowners Association vowed to oppose the city’s policy allowing dogs off leashes in parks and to fight July 4 fireworks at its Tuesday meeting as its founder and longtime president, Frank Skala, prepared to join Community Board 11.

The civic group, which represents more than 400 families and was established in 1974 at its first meeting since November.

Dr. Blanche Felton, president of the John Golden Park Block Association, asked for support in opposing the Parks Department’s policy of allowing dog owners the courtesy of letting their pets go unleashed in parks from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Some members of the East Bayside civic reported being menaced by unleashed dogs in local parks.

Skala’s group passed a motion opposing the Parks Department courtesy but stopped short of passing a motion taking offense at an April 17 Bayside Times editorial criticizing Felton for her view on the dog issue.

“I was targeted, but I can’t understand why,” said Felton, who distributed copies of the editorial that she said was filled with “half-truths.”

Turning to another issue, group said it would meet with police in June in hopes the force would crack down on people setting off fireworks, which occurred on July 4 last year after a similar meeting with police.

“This is something you would expect to find in Iraq or Bosnia but not in Bayside,” said Skala, holding up a box of fireworks casings that he said were set off near PS 41 last year.

Skala and others feared the fireworks could ignite a fire or severely injure children, and they said the 111th Precinct had not responded properly last year even when tipped off to a specific location where fireworks were located.

The association also voted to oppose a variance to add height to a home at 217-20 39th Ave., to support the preservation of community school districts and to support legislation by City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) requiring an extended hearing period on any new property tax increase.

Skala, 63, has been a fixture at Community Board 11 for nearly 30 years, having served on one of its zoning committees and its transportation committee.

The community board covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Oakland Gardens, Hollis Hills and part of Auburndale.

Community members can sit on committees without having a vote on the full board, and Skala has used his involvement to agitate against overdevelopment in Bayside.

“All zoning variances should be turned down,” said Skala, whose civic group has fought a much-publicized legal battle with Chabad of Northeast Queens over the construction of a new religious facility on 213th Street.

The retired social studies teacher and president of the Bayside High School New Alumni Association said he applied to be on the board 10 years ago but was not appointed by then-Borough President Claire Shulman “perhaps because she didn’t like me.”

The outspoken Skala, known to opine on everything from the property tax to the expansion of St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, said being on the community board would give him advance notice of business to come before it.

“This will be the first time I’m sworn in, not sworn out,” joked Skala.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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