Dishing with Dee: Residents pitch in to give Whitestone a needed makeover

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One of the great things about this job is that as old and experienced as you are, you are constantly being exposed to new things, philosophies and points of view often opposed to each other. You can find validation for embracing all.

Such was the case Aug. 16 when I was invited to attend a Maspeth Tea Party meeting at the Knights of Columbus on Grand Avenue. Bob Turner, who is running for Anthony Weiner’s 9th Congressional District seat, was the guest speaker.

First of all, I was not aware there were any Tea Party groups in Queens. The only Tea Party group I had visited was in Nassau County.

I came away with the impression that they are all rather conservative concerned citizens committed to the preservation of the country they love. They are making efforts to seek out, encourage and support candidates who share their beliefs. Folks, they are good guys and they don’t bite!

You must admit they have a point, as not everything is going the way our founding fathers intended. Whatever your point of view, whether it is with the Tea Party or otherwise, turn off your TV, get off your derriere and get involved. You can make a difference.

Last Thursday was a totally different experience. Devon Michael O’Connor, of the Welcome to Whitestone group, held a graffiti-removal project from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The object of attention was the former Whitestone Farmers Market at 154th Street and 11th Avenue. The market building and its parking lot have been empty for years — apparently no one is interested in renting the property. Graffiti artists have taken over and created a horrendous eyesore. The parking lot was allowed to become overgrown with weeds and other sorts of foliage. The neighbors have said this is about the third time volunteers have tried to make the premises presentable to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.

Anthony Carolla, who owns a real estate office across the street, said that last year the weeds were so terribly overgrown that the city Fire Department forced the owners to clean up the property for fear that someone might start a fire with the dried-out shrubbery, which could happen with something as innocent as a person tossing a lit cigarette butt.

The location of this property is less than 100 feet away from the former White House restaurant. I saw the architect’s plans and artist’s renderings of the gorgeous new restaurant and catering house Joe Franco intends to have constructed there. If Tony Avella had his way and prevented Joe from building the place, we would obviously have another Whitestone Farmers Market issue.

If Avella is concerned about preserving the quality of life in Whitestone, why would he make it possible for a duplication of that weed-overgrown, graffiti-filled facade? You don’t need that type of a cancer in your neighborhood. If Avella was so concerned about the neighborhood, why didn’t he recruit some volunteers to clean up the Whitestone Market while he was the city councilman for the area? Young Devon and current Councilman Dan Halloran both recruited volunteers for the cleanup that included members of the U.S. Army Reserves at Fort Totten and Whitestone citizens.

WPIX Channel 11 sent a reporter and cameraman to cover the event. The reporter, Monica Morales, became so enthused that she picked up a paint brush and helped cover much of the graffiti on the ground level and then climbed a ladder to cover up much of the mess on the second floor. You can see how one person’s good deeds can also inspire others to do good.

I find it difficult to understand Avella’s motivation to throw a monkey wrench into the proposed plans by Joe Franco to build the new catering house. Why is he doing it now as a state senator when he had no interest as a councilman?

While everyone was busy painting over the graffiti, we suddenly heard a loud explosion that sounded like a bomb going off. What was it? Two vehicles traveling in opposite directions both decided to make a turn off 154th Street onto 11th Avenue. They had an unfortunate meeting. What a way to end the day!

That’s it for this week.

I like receiving your voicemails at 718-767-6484, faxes at 718-746-0066 and e-mails at

Till next week, Dee.

Updated 11:32 am, October 12, 2011
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