Civic Scene

January, 2017

The Civic Scene

NE Queens civics sound off about bioswales

In its November 2016 newsletter Maria DeInnocentis of the Civic Association of Utopia Estates questions the city building bioswales at the curbs in their community. Green markings indicate that the Department of Environmental Protection is considering putting a bioswale, or “rain gardens,” at that location. Comments (2)

November, 2016

The Civic Scene

Is a green solution turning into a boondoggle?

A couple of months ago green letters with green lines started appearing at the curbs of some houses in Fresh Meadows. It took weeks of inquiry for us to discover that these green letters meant the DEP wanted to build bioswales, or rain gardens, in this location. Comments (3)

October, 2016

The Civic Scene

Special vacations for special-needs kids

Autism on the Seas was founded in 2006, as a niche travel company that organizes and staffs cruise and land resort vacations for families and adult guests with special needs, including autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other cognitive and intellectually development disorders. Comment

August, 2016

The Civic Scene

Queens state and federal legislators fight the problem of airplane noise

It has fallen on the shoulders of eight lawmakers to fight the airplane noise and pollution caused by jet airplanes in Queens. U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Grace Meng; state Sens. Toby Stavisky, Tony Avella and Joe Addabbo Jr.,; state Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz; and City Councilman Peter Koo make up the eight. While other legislators may be involved in the battle, I have not seen their names in the papers recently, so pardon any omissions. Comments (3)
The Civic Scene

A failure to communicate about going green

Suddenly green letters and numbers have been appearing on sidewalks in front of houses and Cunningham Park on 199th Street. They are probably at other places, too. People scrambled to find out what these cryptic green markings mean. Elaine Young, first vice president of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association, searched the DEP website and discovered that they are for bioswales, which are also called Rain Gardens. They are supposed to catch and funnel rainwater into the ground. Comment

July, 2016

The Civic Scene

More accomplishments for Queens high schools

Members of the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council visited Thomas A. Edison High School accompanied by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) to highlight the importance of the school for the community. The school has 12 career and technical education programs, which include three-year automotive repair, electrical installation and medial assisting. The principal, Moses Ojeda, is a graduate of the school. Two students recently were the winners in the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association Competition. Comment

June, 2016

The Civic Scene

Schools need more funding for equipment and supplies

As our school year draws to a close, one must evaluate what our students have accomplished and what more they could have done if there was proper funding. Too many schools need refurbishing and more funding for supplies and modern equipment. Too many school use closets as classrooms, have laboratories which are just old, and have dilapidated halls and rooms. Comments (2)
The Civic Scene

Abandoned houses are blight on neighborhoods

In every neighborhood there are one or more houses which are abandoned or partly built and they make the neighborhood look terrible. Some people have just abandoned their houses or they tore down the old house and started building, but either for financial or zoning reasons have stopped working on the building, perhaps for years. The neighbors are stuck with these eyesores and can’t really enjoy their own property. Comments (1)

May, 2016

The Civic Scene

Can we solve the airplane-noise problem?

For decades residents of Queens have complained about the noise of airplane takeoffs from JFK and La Guardia airports. I remember attending meetings called by the late Congressman Ben Rosenthal at a hotel near La Guardia Airport. The only thing we remember about those meetings were people from Nassau County saying that they should not have airplane noise over their homes because they paid a lot of money for their homes. Comments (8)

April, 2016

The Civic Scene

Civic organizations shed light on important topics

A recent issue of Retiree, the newsletter of the United Federation of Teachers’ Retired Teachers Chapter, had two very interesting stories. One noted that Aug. 26, 2015 was the 80th anniversary of the founding of Social Security. Workers and their employees each pay a payroll tax toward the program, somewhat like an insurance premium. It provides benefits to retirees as well as to those on disability and minor children of deceased members. About 40 percent of the recipients have no other source of income. Social Security has a $2.8 trillion surplus. Comment
The Civic Scene

Tax time has become prime season for scammers

There are warnings on TV, in the newspapers and even in the February 2016 Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association newsletter about criminals who try to get money from you claiming you owe money to the IRS. These criminals use this scam around this time of the year. Comments (1)

March, 2016

The Civic Scene

High rents are causing small businesses to close their doors

The civic associations of Queens have always had a good relationship with the small businesses which occupy the many strip malls in and near them. Too many small businesses in New York City are closing because of the exorbitantly high rents that landlords are asking when their old leases end. The Queens Civic Congress, an umbrella group of approximately 100 civic associations in Queens, has long been concerned about the small businesses which serve their communities. Comments (2)
The Civic Scene

Don’t turn city hotels into homeless shelters

The civic associations of Queens are concerned about the number of hotels which are being built. There is concern that the owners of these hotels could lease them to the city as homeless shelters. Two small hotels have already been turned into homeless shelters. Comments (5)

February, 2016

The Civic Scene

Communities don’t want affordable housing

For months City Hall has been pushing plans to expand affordable housing in spite of the fact that 90 percent of the community boards in New York City and all the borough boards have opposed them. The mayor says that he needs new zoning rules while civic groups of all kinds in all the boroughs oppose the massive 483 pages he pushed through the City Planning Commission and now wants the New York City Council to approve. Comments (3)

January, 2016

The Civic Scene

New bills require a push from Queens voters

State Sen. Tony Avella recently visited a meeting of the Queens Civic Congress and handed out a list of more than 60 bills which are of concern to the civic associations of Queens. A bill is a proposal but does nothing unless it is passed by the state Senate and Assembly and signed into law by the Governor. Avella wants us to support the bills we like by asking our local legislators to vote to get them out of committee, and then vote for them in their branch of the Legislature. Comment
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