The Civic Scene: Some boro civic heads elected to City Council

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An astute observer of the results of the elections for the City Council might draw the conclusion that it pays to be a president of a civic association in Queens because so many of them have won seats. Of course, an election is not based on one position but......

John Liu will be the new councilman for the 20th District, which represents downtown Flushing, Kissena Park, Queensboro Hill, Mitchell Gardens and Auburndale. Liu is president of the North Flushing Civic Association and was a vice president of the Queens Civic Congress, which is an umbrella organization of civic associations in Queens.

I first remember getting to know John Liu as he held up a large cardboard at a public hearing in the July room in Queens Borough Hall. The upstairs meeting room was too small, which showed how various houses of worship had purchased house after house in his civic area so that many blocks were dominated by community facilities. He has been leading this fight for years. The single-family homeowners feel intimidated by these facilities, which were taking over their quiet residential community.

His continued activities led him to be elected as a vice president of the Queens Civic Congress with responsibility for protecting the communities of Queens from being disrupted by commercial trucks driving through them. He has also been a member of Community Board 7.

Another civic association president who was just elected to the City Council is James Gennaro. He takes over Morton Povman’s Council District 24 seat, which extends out to Forest Hills. He was the president of the Jamaica Estates Association and also has been on Community Board 8.

As his civic association’s president, he has led the fight to maintain the quality of life in Jamaica Estates. The neighborhood has battled against graffiti as well as homeowners and speculators adding illegal apartments to the large houses in the area or illegally bulldozing homes to then build larger out-of-proportion houses which don’t conform to the other homes.

Tony Avella has been elected to Council District 19, which represents Bayside, College Point, Auburndale, Bay Terrace and parts of Flushing and Douglaston. Avella has fought to improve the quality of life in College Point for years. He was president of the Joint Community Council of College Point, which is an umbrella group representing 20 organizations. He also founded the Alliance of Northeast Queens, the North Shore Anti-Graffiti League and the Bay Terrace Civilian Police patrol. His Joint Community Council was part of the United Civic Council and then joined the Queens Civic Congress when it was created as the umbrella civic organization for much of Queens.

Avella has been volunteering for years and years for his community. I remembering when we were petitioning against something in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Avella had set up a bridge table and I relieved him for a few hours while he and his family enjoyed the fair which was taking place. He then came back, packed up his table and we all went home.

Another civic president who is now a councilman is Joe Addabbo. He will represent the 32nd District in Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Lindenwood, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Belle Harbor. He was president of the Tudor Park Civic Association in Ozone Park.

I first met Addabbo in the Bayside Cemetery, which had been vandalized. It was then discovered that the cemetery had been neglected and was covered with weeds, bushes and even small trees. We spent an afternoon cleaning up the ccemetery. We exchanged civic newsletters. I remember that once I went up to his law office on Queens Boulevard at Union Turnpike to give him some newsletters. I then asked him to notarize a paper. He did so but refused to take any money saying, “You do so much as a civic leader.” He also did much as a civic leader which is one of the reasons why he was elected.

Two other new councilmen who were active in their local civic associations were David Weprin, eastern Queens, and Peter Vallone Jr. in western Queens. Weprin was treasurer of the Holliswood Civic Association and Vallone was legal representative for the United Community Civic Association and Astoria Civic Association, which had been founded by his grandfather.

Incidentally, Weprin will be my councilman. He also had lived across the street from my father and mother-in-law in Jamaica Estates.

Other civic leaders such as Jerry Iannece and Joyce Shepard tried for elected office at the council level. One should remember that all of the civic leaders who were mentioned in this column are volunteers and work pro bono.


They are fixing the highway connections between the Long Island Expressway and the Clearview Expressway. This is good, but while repairing the highways the city is endangering drivers who are connecting between the Long Island Expressway and the Clearview Expressway.

There is danger if one is driving east along the Long Island Expressway and then cuts northward to join the Clearview Expressway heading toward the Throgs Neck Bridge.

There is also danger when one is heading east on the Long Island Expressway and crosses over the expressway to enter the Clearview heading south.

Why can’t they remove those cement barriers and give the vehicles merging into the Clearview Expressway going north and south those original couple hundred yards to merge? I would hate to hear of a terrible accident at these mergers. Have there been any? Get the construction job done extra quickly!

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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