Town hall goers peeved at plaza in E. Elmhurst

Ignazio Terranova (second from l.) answers a question at a town hall held by state Sen. Jose Peralta. He was joined by Corey Williams of the Health Department (l.-r.), Dalila Hall of the DOT, Peralta's chief of staff Nancy Conde, Capt. Thomas Conforti of the 110th Precinct and Capt. Brian Hennessey of the 115th Precinct. Photo by Rebecca Henely
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A town hall hosted by the staff of state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) last week grew heated early when a man confronted a city Department of Transportation representative over the conversion of 37th Road between Broadway and 74th Street into a pedestrian plaza.

The question was one of many asked of various city agency representatives at the Dec. 7 meeting at IS 227, at 32-02 Junction Blvd. in East Elmhurst. Since Peralta could not attend the event, the event was moderated by Nancy Conde, his chief of staff.

Abdul Basher. a member of the United 32BJ property service workers union, contended that business owners on 37th Road had seen their business drop after the road was converted in October. Basher and others have said that the creation of the plaza and subsequent rerouting of the buses that used to travel down 37th Road have cost them out-of-area customers, who used to stop by after window-shopping from the buses.

Dalila Hall, deputy borough commissioner for the DOT, said the change was made based on the Jackson Heights Transportation Study, with the approval of Community Boards 3 and 4 and elected officials who requested more public space in Jackson Heights. She said the study was well-advertised through fliers and on the DOT’s website.

“It was a two-year process,” Hall said. “We didn’t do it willy-nilly.”

But she emphasized that the DOT was aware of the merchants’ concerns and eager to reach a solution with them.

Other agencies and police officers fielded questions about quality-of-life issues at the meeting. Questions ranged from procedures for dealing with unsafe buildings to motorists speeding down certain streets.

In response to a question about school overcrowding, Brian McGinn, manager of operations for the city Department of Education’s Division of School Construction Authority, said four new buildings were planned for the district and that they would be built from September 2013 to September 2015.

“That should alleviate a lot of the overcrowdi­ng,” McGinn said.

Other questions were for smaller but annoying matters.

Ignazio Terranova, deputy inspector for the city Sanitation Department, said in response to a question about whether the department was enforcing dog curbing laws that failing to do so would result in a $250 fine.

“Once we see the smoking pile, boom,” Terranova said.

Others had complaints about livery cab drivers and said the drivers sometimes park on the street and leave their trash there.

Giovanna Reid, district manager of CB 3, said that in addition to writing down the driver’s license number, those who see livery cab drivers misbehaving can reach out to the board as well as elected officials and a public hearing can be held during the driver’s regular license renewal period.

“We want to make sure operators understand [they] must be good neighbors,” Reid said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 5:51 pm, January 4, 2012
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Reader feedback

Len Maniace from Jackson Heights says:
Several points on behalf of the changes to 37th Avenue:
1. The bus was rerouted from 37th Avenue to provide better service to passengers reaching the subway. Under the changes, buses now travel south on 75th Street to the transit center on Roosevelt Avenue, avoiding several unnecessary turns. 2. There is a subway entrance on 37th Road that attract pedestrians. 3. The closing of the street will provide space for restaurants to open sidewalk cafes, improving the business environment. In light of this it probably would have been better to wait until the spring to close the street.
Dec. 14, 2011, 11:42 am
Liana from Jackson Heights says:
I agree with Gregory of E. Elmhurst. If even the most basic quality of life laws are not enforced how can we hope to improve our neighborhoods? We have a serious noise problem in my neighborhood, some residents use their homes as illegal dance halls that attracts drug dealers, prostitution, etc. and to try to get a patrol car to go and break up the commotion is like asking for a miracle! These people have loud speakers blaring at all hours, they charge admission, and create an unsafe environment for those of us that respect our neighbors. While I respect our local police precints and know they have a lot on their plate, we need NYC government to understand the urgency of providing us with enough properly trained 'beat cops' to help us out here. We cannot afford any cutbacks to law enforcement, not in Jackson Heights please.
Dec. 15, 2011, 7:14 pm

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