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CB 8 involved in local outreach in many different ways

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Kenneth David Cohen II recently became a member of Community Board 8. He follows the tradition of Kenneth Cohen Sr. and Valerie Littleton-Cohen, who had also been on CB 8. He has a younger sister, Courtney, who attends Queens College.

Kenneth has been active in community service since age 6. He started by planting flowers around and cleaning up the playground of PS 154, his neighborhood school. His mother was PTA president there.

He attended PS 154, the Louis Armstrong Middle School, Robert F. Kennedy High School and York College. He is currently involved with the NAACP as the highest-ranked youth in its northeast region.

He joined CB 8 so he could continue to support his community. He also wants to be a role model for community youth and show them it is "cool" to be an active and productive community leader.

At the Sept. 10 CB 8 meeting, board member Jagir Singh Bains received Certificates of Appreciation from state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows). The reason for the citations was that he just became a U.S. citizen. He has been on CB 8 for six years, is active in the Sikh Cultural Society and Flushing Heights Civic Association and is a postal service employee.

CB 8 Manager Marie Adam-Ovide reported on a guided tour she had at the city Department of Buildings' Queens office. Queens DOB Commissioner Derek Lee informed Marie and other district managers that the office receives between 67 and 200 complaints a day.

She was told the DOB has a new unit, created under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Special Enforcement Plan. The SEP unit is comprised of engineers, inspectors, managers, attorneys and investigators who work to prevent abuses by contractors, owners and professionals who abuse zoning codes and regulations. They are now supposed to increase job reviews from the currently proposed 20 percent, which is not done, to 100 percent, which I will believe when I see it.

This is supposed to tighten control over self-certification because if an error is found, the architect will be referred for professional review. Only if the person who lied is severely punished with his or her name made public will illegal and dangerous building be stopped and the quality of life in our communities be maintained.

Another problem is that it is hard to prove when a fence higher that 4 feet on interior lots or 6 feet high on corner lots were built or a front or back yard was bricked or cemented over after April 30, when the law went into effect.

If people are concerned, they should take photos of illegal construction with a date stamp on the photo and send them to CB 8. People are encouraged to sign an affidavit that they saw this illegal construction taking place. They may, however, be called to testify at a hearing.

GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The New York Hall of Science, in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, has been named one of the top 10 national science centers in the September 2008 issue of Parents magazine. The borough's science center is listed as having hands-on exhibits and catering to children.

BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: When this fiscal year ends Sept. 30, the federal deficit is scheduled to reach a record $407 billion. This does not include the total federal or annual trade deficit.

Posted 6:40 pm, October 10, 2011
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