Minutes of the General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Association -- November 18, 2019


Officers Present: President – Walter Mugdan; Vice President - Victor Dadras; Secretary – Charles Manna

Board Members Present: John Duane; Peter Reinharz; Bob Timmerman; Philip Toscano

Officials Present: State Senator John Liu, and his Deputy Chief of Staff Akshar Patel; Amber Yoon, representing Assemblyman Ed Braunstein

President Walter Mugdan called the meeting to order at 8:05 P.M. A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted to waive reading of the minutes. (Mr. Mugdan noted that the minutes are available for review on the Westmoreland website.)

Treasurer Gary Savage was out of the country; Walter Mugdan announced that the balance-on-hand was about $17,500. A motion was made to accept this interim Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded, and the report was unanimously approved.

New and Old Business

• Walter reported on the successful Third Annual Glenwood Landing Park cleanup held October 26. 17 people participated in the event, which included planting some 550 daffodil bulbs. A spring cleanup will be scheduled for late March or early April.

• Walter announced Assemblyman Braunstein's annual Toy Drive and Veterans Gift Drive. Toys and gifts must be received by December 17. For details on what kinds of toys and gifts are accepted, and where and when to deliver them, call the Assemblyman's office at 718-357-3588

• Walter announced that on Nov. 18 the Douglaston Civic Association meeting would include information about the planned reconstruction of the Little Neck-Douglaston Branch of the Queens Library. [Walter attended the 11/18 meeting and learned that $20 million in funding has been approved for a complete reconstruction of the library, with the goal of doubling its current size (either with a finished basement or a second floor). The current building will be completely removed. A well-respected design firm has been hired. Design is expected to take about a year, and demolition and construction would likely take 1-2 years more. During the time the building is not available, a temporary library would likely be installed in a nearby rental location. The Westmoreland Association will work with the Douglaston Civic Association and the Friends of the Library to learn how we can best provide constructive input to the design.]

• Walter reported on a September 21 news story that Captain John Hall, the Commander of the 111th NYPD Precinct, while out jogging on the Joe Michaels Mile (along the Cross Island Parkway), saw a vehicle that had been reported stolen. He called his officers to the scene. Three men were arrested; they also found stolen credit cards with the men. Bravo to Captain Hall!

Discussion of Traffic Issues Around PS-94 and Elsewhere in the Community

Discussion continued from that last two Association meetings concerning proposals for traffic improvements in the community and, in particular, around PS-94 where conditions are chaotic and unsafe during the morning drop-off and afternoon pickup time periods. The proposals approved at our September meeting included making one block of 41st Drive between Westmoreland and Little Neck Parkway (LNP) into a one-way street towards LNP. At the September meeting the members present also took note of the fact that 42nd Avenue has for many years been one-way towards Westmoreland, and 44th Avenue was made one-way towards Westmoreland a number of years ago. The members endorsed a suggestion to consider making 43rd Avenue one way towards LNP. Walter explained that after the September meeting, a letter was sent from the Association to the Transportation Committee of Community Board (CB) 11 suggesting that the Committee consider these proposals.

Walter opened the discussion by first addressing the 43rd Avenue proposal. During the time between the September meeting and the November meeting, resident Jean-Jacques Jonatowski circulated a survey to all the residents of 43rd Avenue; nearly all responded that they preferred to keep it as a two-way street; none responded that they preferred to make it a one-way street. Several of those residents were present at the meeting. Walter noted that the 43rd Avenue proposal was not directly connected to the efforts to improve traffic conditions around PS-94. He pointed out that while Westmoreland area residents were notified on multiple occasions about our intention to discuss traffic conditions around PS-94, residents were not notified that there would be any discussion of traffic patterns on 43rd Avenue. Given the essentially unanimous objection of 43rd Avenue residents, and the lack of prior notice, Walter entertained a motion to amend the Association's previous proposals to the CB 11 Transportation Committee to delete the 43rd Avenue element. That motion was made, seconded, and passed unanimously. Walter will write to the CB 11 Committee with this update.

[At this point in the meeting, our guest State Senator John Liu arrived. The discussion of the PS-94-related traffic proposals was suspended while we heard from Sen. Liu -- see details below. After Sen. Liu departed, discussion of the PS-94 traffic concerns and proposals resumed.]

Walter explained the purpose of the 41st Drive proposal endorsed at the September meeting. With cars parked on the north and standing on the south side of the street during student drop off and pickup times, there is inadequate space for two-way traffic. Many drivers therefore park partially on the sidewalks. This would not be necessary if the street is one-way. Children and adults walking between cars would not need to contend with two-way traffic. Additionally, making the street one-way would deter commuters during the evening rush hour from using 41st Drive as a through-street to avoid congestion on Northern Blvd.

A detailed map displaying the proposals endorsed at the September meeting was circulated to the attendees.

Discussion focused on the proposal to make the one block of 41st Drive one way towards LNP. A number of residents from that block were present. Resident Wilson Milian, speaking on behalf of himself and some neighbors, expressed opposition to the proposal for a variety of reasons. Resident Alan Rubin presented a written statement with several attachments, also opposing the proposal. [Those who wish to read Mr. Rubin's written submissions are invited to email Westmorelandassn@aol.com, and we will provide a digital copy.]

Reasons for opposition cited by Mr. Milian and Mr. Rubin included a concern that traffic on a one-way street may travel more quickly than on a two-way street, thus potentially increasing the danger of an accident; doubts about the efficacy of the proposal to improve school-related traffic on 41st Drive; doubts about its efficacy in deterring commuter traffic during the evening rush; concerns about inconvenience to residents of this block of 41st Drive; concerns about the impact of the proposal on other area residents; and concerns that a full-time conversion to a one way street was being proposed to address a problem that only exists for a few hours per day and only on school days.

Other residents who spoke had similar concerns, though some were more open to considering the proposal, and one resident expressed potential support.

Mr. Milian and others made a variety of alternative suggestions, including installation of "No Standing" signs on the south side, requests to the NYPD to enforce the rules, and installation of cameras to enhance enforcement. Walter and others noted that camera installation requires State approval which is unlikely to be given. Moreover, it is widely recognized that police will almost never ticket parents who are dropping off or picking up children, even if they are parked in areas where parking is prohibited, unless the driver is behaving in an unusually dangerous manner.

Several people advocated that the one-way restriction for this block could be made intermittent, to be applicable only during specified time periods (i.e., during the morning drop off and afternoon pickup times). This is similar to what is done by the Town of North Hempstead for turns at the intersection of Nassau Road and West Mill Drive. Walter and others advised that the New York City Department of Transportation is very unlikely to approve any such intermittent restrictions on New York City streets.

Concerns were expressed that the proposals endorsed at the September meeting had already been adopted or finalized in some manner. One attendee had this concern because the annotated map displaying the proposal appeared to have been professionally prepared. [In fact it was not prepared professionally; it was prepared by Walter simply as a means to illustrate the proposals.] There was also concern that the transmission of the proposals to CB-11's Transportation Committee implied a degree of finality.

Association Vice President Victor Dadras currently serves as Chair of the CB-11 Transportation Committee. He explained on several occasions during the meeting that the referral of the proposals to that Committee by the Association does not in suggest any finality in the matter. On the contrary, the Association simply suggested that the Committee consider the proposals, which it has done and continues to do. Any more formal endorsement of any portion of the proposals would have to come from the full Community Board, and that would only happen after a public hearing opportunity. Moreover, the ultimate decision lies entirely with the NYC Transportation Department, which -- if it was inclined to pursue the question at all -- would carry out its own detailed analysis and make independent proposals on how to address the underlying concerns. Victor stressed that all of the proposed changes are at the discussion stage, and no decision has been made by anyone or any entity.

Board member Phil Toscano noted that an additional standing area for parents dropping off and picking up children could be created by prohibiting parking, during the relevant time periods, in about 10 parking spots on the east side of Little Neck Parkway between 42nd and 43rd Avenues (adjacent to Admiral Park, the school playground). Children could safely walk to and from these cars, across 42nd Ave., because there is a crossing guard at that intersection. There was general agreement that this could be helpful, but there was also recognition that parking spots are important for the neighbors across the street and others. The idea will be communicated to the CB-11 Transportation Committee.

There was renewed discussion of the need to eliminate one parking spot on the west side of Marathon Parkway immediately south of the traffic light and the right-turn lane from southbound Little Neck Parkway onto Marathon. This spot is almost always occupied (mostly by a large van); the parked vehicle interferes with the traffic trying to make the right turn going south onto Marathon Parkway. Walter reported that after the September meeting, the Association wrote to NYCDOT requesting that this parking spot be eliminated. No response has yet been received.

Finally, a suggestion was made to eliminate parking on the western-most end of 41st Drive for at least three car lengths. This is also an element of the proposal endorsed at the September meeting, and is reflected in the map that was distributed at the meeting.

New Business

State Senator John Liu joined the meeting at 8:40 p.m, and stayed for over an hour for a "Town Hall" session. He introduced himself and shared information about his professional background, which is in accounting and finance. He has a degree in Math and Physics. He previously served as NY City Councilman and NYC Comptroller. His current agenda in Albany includes the following:
• He is working with other legislators to improve the voting process across the state, including absentee and early voting. This year’s changes seemed to go very well.
• He supports a woman’s right to choose. He supports the “Reproductive Rights” law which is intended to offset any potential attack on the Roe v. Wade decision by the current Supreme Court. The state law removes the stigma of abortion being an illegal activity, establishing this as a matter of personal health status.
• He supports all efforts to create a “Zero Emissions” standard by moving towards replacing current dependence on fossil fuel energy sources with renewable energy sources to combat the Global Warming crisis.
• Among the legislature's most important duties is negotiating and establishing the state's $175 billion annual budget. The largest elements in the budget are funding for public schools and health benefits for state residents.
• He explained that the difference between the State Senate and the Assembly is basically the same as for the House of Representatives and Senate in the federal Congress. Each State Senator represents approximately 340,000 residents and each State Assemblyperson represents approximately 180,000 residents. Ed Braunstein is our Assemblyperson.

Senator Liu then invited questions from the audience.

Q: What, if anything, is being done to reduce taxes? (The questioner mentioned that President Trump has changed his residence from New York to Florida.)
A.There is no evidence that President Trump is actually contributing to the tax revenues of NY State. He may, in fact, not have the assets that he claims. Besides, the property taxes on his NY State-located assets will remain. There has been an increase on the "mansion tax" (this would not affect the vast majority of Little Neck properties). Sen. Liu also supported the increase in the "millionaire tax."

Q: What is the impact of the change in the law that changes the status of 16- and 17-year old people from "adults" to "minors"? Won’t they be more out of control because they can’t receive a police summons for nuisance behavior?
A. There is no evidence that will happen. They can still be arrested for misdemeanors and felonies. The same concern was expressed with the end of stop-and-frisk. The result was that crime has continued to drop and the relationship of police and the general public has improved. There was a disproportionate number of non-white stops that did not result in arrests for cause. It just created fear and mistrust by minorities.

Q: What can be done to reduce the number of empty store-fronts along Northern Blvd?
A: Sen. Liu reminded us that the Senator’s job is to review policies by the various departments in the state government. Local concerns are best addressed to City officials such as our City Council member. Sen. Liu agreed that there is a general problem with commercial rental costs, which have escalated significantly in recent years. [Association Secretary Charles Manna, who is a realtor, gave examples of the dramatic escalation in commercial rental costs, to levels that are likely unsustainable.] Sen. Liu said that there has been discussion among legislators regarding commercial rent control, which he could support, but there is not yet much support for such an initiative among other legislators.

Q: The MTA bus service has deteriorated considerably recently. This especially affects senior citizens, as well as non-drivers. What can be done?
A. The MTA has had a very bad history of poor management of funding and maintenance and other problems. The best thing to do now is to focus on the future. The most current change was to introduce tandem (or articulated) buses. They increase the passenger capacity, but in many cases the MTA reduces the schedule frequency. The attendees emphasized that more buses and greater frequency, not longer buses, are what is needed in our area. Sen. Liu said that the MTA was trying to make changes that addressed the greatest need. The solution must balance the needs of all the patrons -- not an easy task. There is a $51 billion capital improvement plan that is being developed. Senator Liu and others are trying to ensure that the MTA produces the best plan possible for the district.

Q: There are 65,000 homeless people in New York City. What can be done about it?
A. The biggest issue related to this problem is affordable housing. There are few projects in the works to solve this issue. A general discussion ensued.

Q: The questioner has to get to work in Manhattan very early in the morning. He has to drive because there is insufficient early morning railroad or bus service to Manhattan.
A. Sen. Liu agrees that this is an issue.

Senator Liu concluded that what he can do is seek to hold government agencies accountable for their actions and policies, and seek to ensure they make their decisions in an appropriate way, and based on adequate consideration of the facts and their constitutents' needs. He does not seek to substitute his personal views for the judgment of the agencies' professional staff.

Announcements: On December 4, 2019 the City Landmarks Commission will hold a meeting at the Little Neck Community Church at 7 PM.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 PM.   The next meeting is on March 16, 2020.


Respectfully submitted, Charles Manna

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Minutes of the September 16, 2019 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

 

Officers Present: President - Walter Mugdan; Vice President - Victor Dadras: Secretary – Charles Manna

 

Board Members Present: John Duane; Peter Reinharz; Bob Timmerman

Officials Present: Akshar Patel = Deputy Chief of  Starr for State Senator Liu.

President Walter Mugdan called the meeting to order at 8:05 P.M.  A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted to waive reading of the minutes.   (Mr. Mugdan noted that the minutes are available for review on the Westmoreland website.)  

 

Gary Savage was not present to present the Treasurer’s report.  A motion was made to waive the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded, and passed.

 

Old Business

A map of the neighborhood was distributed showing suggestions for the re-routing of traffic around PS94 in order to ease the congestion that occurs during release and the start of the school day.  A motion was  made to change signage on 41st Drive to “No Stopping” on the north side, at the Little Neck Parkway end of the street.  The motion was seconded and passed. 

 

A motion was made, seconded and passed to ask the DOT to change the flow of traffic on the 41st Ave block adjacent to PS94 (i.e., between Westmoreland and Little Neck Parkway) to one-way going West; and to change the flow of traffic on 43rd Avenue between Westmoreland and Little Neck Parkway to one-way, also going West.  Seconded and passed. Members will present the motions to the CB11 Transportation Committee.  [On September 22 Mr. Mugdan sent a detailed letter, with accompanying map, presenting this proposal to the Community Board 11 Transportation Committee for its consideration and subsequent presentation to the full Board. The Association understands that before this proposal could be adopted by the NYC DOT, the residents on the affected streets would have to be consulted and given an opportunity to express their views.  If CB-11 entertains the proposal, a hearing would be held which would provide at least one such opportunity.  We will also provide an opportunity for the affected residents to discuss the proposal at the Association's 11/18/19 meeting.]

 

There was also a discussion about the right turn lane from Little Neck Parkway southbound onto Marathon Parkway.  This lane was painted relatively recently.  However, there is a single parking spot immediately beyond the right turn lane, in the direct path of that lane.  When a car is parked there it forces those turning right from the right turn lane to immediately veer to the left, which defeats the purpose of the right turn lane and is dangerous.   The members agreed that a letter would be written to the NYC DOT asking for that parking spot to be eliminated.  [That letter was sent on 9/21/19; a copy of the letter was also provided to the Chair of the CB-11 Transportation Committee.]

 

New Business

Walter announced a number of events of interest:

 

  • October 2, 9 AM - 4:30 PM:  Free Mobile Mammogram Services (hosted by the American-Italian Cancer Foundation  and State Senator John Liu).  At the Cross Island YMCA, 238-10 Hillside Avenue, Bellerose, 11426.  Open to women, 40-79, with health insurance, and women, 50-79, without health insurance; must be a resident of NYC and have not had a mammogram for 12 months.  Call Senator Liu's office at 718-765-6675 to make an appointment.

 

  • October 5, 7:00 - 9:30 PM:  The Douglaston and Little Neck Historical is holding an Autumn Garden Party fundraiser at the home of Jim & Maura Wrynn, 8 Hillside Avenue, Douglaston, NY  11363.  Enjoy light hors d'oeuvres, refreshments and music.  $75.00 per person.  RSVP by September 27 online at: http://dlnhs.org/event/october-5-2019-30th-anniversary/ 

 

  • October 12, 10 AM - 4 PM: SAFE Disposal Event sponsored by the NYC Sanitation Department.  Get rid of harmful/hazardous household wastes safely.  Bring: automotive products, electronics, household products (paints, fluorescent lightbulbs, batteries, solvents, spray cans, pesticides, etc., to Cunningham Park, Ball Field Parking Lot (cars enter on Francis Lewis Blvd. between Union Turnpike & Grand Central Parkway).  DO NOT BRING:  appliances (like microwaves, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, or refrigerators); or tires.  This event is only for NYC residents - you must show proof of residency.  For more information visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dsny/site/services/harmful-products/safe-disposal

 

  • October 20, 11 AM - 2:30 PM:  FREE BICYCLE HELMET Fitting and Distribution Event for all, sponsored by NYC Councilman Barry Grodenchik.  At Basketball Court, 73rd Avenue & 196th St., Fresh Meadows, NY  11365 (rain site: PS-26Q School Gymnasium, 195-02 69th Ave., Fresh Meadows, 11365). 

 

  • October 26, 9 AM - 1 PM:  Third Annual Glenwood Landing Park Cleanup and Daffodil Bulb Planting Event!  Help beautiful our own "triangle park" at the corner of Glenwood and 39th Road.  Stay for an hour or for the entire event.  All tools and equipment will be provided by the NYC Parks Department.  Pizza at noon for all volunteers!  Questions?  Call Westmoreland Association at 718-224-7256.

 

Street Tree Damage to Sidewalks.  New York City will no longer issue sidewalk violations cause by street-side trees that are the responsibility of the City.  Any tree that is within 14 feet of the curb is a City tree.  If the sidewalk is upended by the tree’s roots, call 311 to report the issue.  The City will (eventually) repair the sidewalk and inspect the tree.

Gasoline Powered Leaf Blowers:  Melanie McGillick, past president of the Douglas Manor Environmental Association, attended the meeting to discuss the growing concern about the prevalence of gasoline-powered leaf blowers.  They are objectionable for many reasons, not the least because of their noise.  They also blow dirt, feces, chemicals from lawn pesticides and fumes from the blower engines themselves into the air.  They are restricted and even outlawed in different areas of the country.  Voluntary compliance has not worked well.  It seems that the landscape contractors promise to cease the use and soon return to using them.  The landscapers find them easier and faster than using rakes and brooms.  The Town of North Hempstead in Nassau County has already passed laws to prohibit their use during the summer months,.  Melanie would like to see either an outright ban, or at least similar restrictive laws passed in NYC.  Councilman Green is pushing for such legislation.   Akshar Patel pointed out that California has already banned leaf blowers and advocates such legislation.  Some other suggestions:

  • Restrict their use from May through September.  They only really need to be used for the Fall foliage removal.

  • Use mufflers – that doesn’t remove the fumes, however.

  • Approach the next batch of candidates for their position on this issue.

  • Shoot for the moon -- back a year-round ban.

A motion was made and passed to support such legislation.  [A letter presenting these proposals was sent to NYC Councilman Vallone on 9/22/19, with copies to Councilman Constantinides (Chair of the City Council Environmental Committee), Sen. Liu, CB-11, and other local civic associations.  A copy of that letter is posted on the Association's website.]

 

Akshar Patel announced that State Senator Liu will come to our November 18, 2019 meeting.  The Board requested members to come with questions for him (including the leaf blower issue).

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 PM.  The next meeting is on November 18, 2019      

Respectfully submitted, Charles Manna

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Minutes of the May 20, 2019 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

 

Officers Present: Vice President - Victor Dadras; Treasurer – Gary Savage; Secretary – Charles Manna

 

Board Members Present: John Duane; Peter Reinharz; Bob Timmerman; Nam Yoon

 

Officials Present: Ahmed Nassar – from the District 19 Councilman’s Office (Paul Vallone); Amber Yoon – from State Assemblyman Ed Braunstein’s Office

 

NYPD – Community Affairs Officers: John Erdman, Officers Robert Dussell and Miguel Mora (B Sector Officers) – Captain John Hall, the Ranking officer at the 111 Precinct. – Note àThe 111th Precinct serves the northeastern portion of Queens containing Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Hollis Hills, and Fresh Meadows. There are also over forty city parks located in the Precinct.

 

Vice President Victor Dadras called the meeting to order at 8:05 P.M.  A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted to waive reading of the minutes.   (Mr. Dadras noted that the minutes are available for review on the Westmoreland website.)  

 

Gary Savage provided the Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $17,396.97 as of May 20, 2019.  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded, and the report was unanimously approved.

 

New Business

 

Captain Hall presented the news and updates concerning the 111th Precinct.  There are now thirteen new police officers (for a total of 130 Officers) and ten new cars.  Grand Larceny (major theft over $1,000) was limited to three so far this year.  Two credit cards and one phone scam.  Drug usage is down.  There have been two arrests so far in the house break-in.  One more suspect is being pursued.

 

Question: Why are patrol cars stationed on Glenwood at Northern Blvd?

Answer: It is a great location to observe traffic violations of drivers coming into Queens from Nassau County

 

Next, there was a discussion about the concerns that Westmoreland residents have with the traffic situation on the streets surrounding PS94.  Cars clog the streets and block the flow of traffic on Little Neck Parkway and on both 42 Ave and 41st Drive. John Erdman said that they were working with the school and the PTA to ease the traffic issues. 

 

Old Business

 

The semi-annual Glenwood Landing (triangle park) planting and cleanup – Nineteen people collected nineteen bags of trash.  Several volunteers cleaned along the LIRR parking lot on the edge of 39 Ave.  There was a small amount of drug paraphernalia collected, but a big reduction from previous years.  The Douglaston Garden Club led the effort. Next Fall the group plans to plant over 500 tulip bulbs. 

 

Ahmed Nassar from Paul Vallon’s office reported on the Participatory Budget voting.  Our district was the highest in voter turnout.  The winners were PS 129 for the gym renovation, Bayside High School for the Bio Dome and NYPD for the cameras.  Paul Vallone will include some of the other projects in the other part of his annual discretionary budget.  For instance, PS 67 and PS 98 will get some funds for their projects because of the efforts that they put in.

 

The PTA announced that they will be installing one or two “Little Free Libraries” in the neighborhood.  They will work with the Douglaston Garden Club to determine the best placement.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 PM.  The next meeting is on September 16, 2019     

 

Respectfully submitted, Charles Manna       

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Minutes of the March 18, 2019 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

 

Officers Present: President - Walter Mugdan; Treasurer – Gary Savage; Secretary – Charles Manna

 

Board Members Present: John Duane; Peter Reinharz; Bob Timmerman; Nam Yoon

 

Officials Present: Akshar Patel – Deputy Chief of Staff for New York State Senator John Liu

 

President Walter Mugdan called the meeting to order at 8:05 P.M.  A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted to waive reading of the minutes.   (Mr. Mugdan noted that the minutes are available for review on the Westmoreland website.)  

 

Gary Savage provided the Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $15,861.70 as of March 18, 2019.  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded, and the report was unanimously approved.

 

Old Business

 

Traffic Safety:  We received two letters from the Borough Commissioner of the Department of Transportation in response to our requests for safety improvements in the neighborhood.

  • "Daylighting -- creating space at a corner so drivers’ views are not blocked by parked cars.  Our request to create such space at the corner of Little Neck Parkway and 41st Drive was rejected. A traffic study does not support that change, DOT claims.

  • A stop sign or other traffic calming installation at the intersection of Glenwood Ave and 39th Road was also rejected for similar reasons.

 

Protective Covenants: The Rickert-Finley covenants were sent to all of the Westmoreland residents in the recent mailing.  Walter Mugdan reiterated the most important points in the list of covenants, including the fencing restriction and the setback requirements.  Also, he reminded us that businesses can only operate along Northern Blvd and the last block along Little Neck Parkway just south of Northern Blvd.

 

Construction:  There are currently two residential construction projects in our neighborhood.  The one at the corner of 41st Rd and Glenwood is going extraordinarily slowly, with a few days of work interspersed with months of inactivity   Also, a new project has started at 43-04 Glenwood.  We have contacted the owners, reminded them of the covenants, and invited them to share their plans with us so we can confirm they are in compliance with our covenants.

 

Parking on Lawn:  There are several properties that have vehicle parked on their front lawns.  That is a violation of the building department rules and has a negative impact on our neighborhood.

 

Excess Paving:  A house on 43rd Ave has completely paved over the front lawn. This is also a violation of zoning or building rules, which limit the percentage of a property that can be covered by impervious surfaces.  Walter discussed the combined sewer system in the area, which is why the city wants residents to minimize paving over front lawns.  The more water that is absorbed in our property, the less impact that heavy rains have on the sewer system.

 

New Business

 

Our annual election of officers took place.  The current board and officers were reelected. 

 

Second Annual Spring Cleanup at Glenwood Landing Park (the Triangle Park at the intersection of Glenwood and 39th Road) will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2019 from 10 AM to 2 PM.  The event is supported by the Douglaston Garden Club.  The NYC Partnership for Parks will supply gardening tools.

 

The Participatory Budget voting will take place from March 30 to April 6, 2019.  The locations and the candidate budget candidates will be sent to the membership shortly.

 

Saturday March 23, 2019:  A presentation of the experiences and photographs of a 96 year-old World War II combat veteran will take place at noon at Temple Tikvah in New Hyde Park. Lunch will be available at 11:30. 

 

Udalls Cove Preservation Committee – the 50th Annual Wetlands & Woodlands Cleanup will take place on Saturday, April 13, 2019 starting at 10 AM. A free picnic lunch will be provided at Memorial Field in Douglas Manor.

 

Akshar Patel – Deputy Chief of Staff for New York State Senator John Liu – announced that a town hall meeting will  take  place on March 21, 2019 at 230-17 Hillside Ave from 6:30 to 8:30.  The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the use of congestion pricing as a way to reduce the heavy traffic found in lower Manhattan.

 

Memorial Day Parade: Walter encouraged the membership to join us in the Parade.  We leave from the parking lot adjacent to the Starbucks at 50 Northern Boulevard (on the Nassau side of the City Line).  The parade kicks off at 2:00.  Charles Manna asked for volunteers and also mentioned that there are fund-raiser activities going on – including a 300 Club-type pool that has a $10,000 prize.  Each of the 300 boxes are selling for $100.  Also, there is a reception/dinner taking place on Thursday, May 9th at Il Bacco.  The cost is $125 per person.  All proceeds cover the $50,000 cost of running the parade.

 

The final part of the evening was devoted to discussing three issues that concern the membership.

 

First, the owners of the property located at the Northwest corner of Northern Blvd. and Douglaston Parkway are applying for a “Spot” Zoning variance that would allow them to build an eight-story mixed-use building.  Currently, they have a variance that allows them to build a three-story structure.  A variance is the appropriate way to go about addressing an appropriate use for this property; spot rezoning is inappropriate, and sets a very dangerous precedent.  Our Community Board 11 voted unanimously last fall to oppose the spot rezoning.  The matter was then heard at the Borough President's office and by the City Planning Commission, which  approved the rezoning.  The Douglaston Civic Association filed a lawsuit in opposition, asserting among other things that the Planning Commission had given insufficient notice (a procedural defect).  If the matter is remanded to the Planning Commission it is likely to hold another hearing and again approve the rezoning.  The matter then goes to the City Council as the last step in the approval process. If the Council approves, DCA is prepared to file suit again. We will notify the membership when the next hearing is announced.

 

Secondly, the issue of residential single-family property tax was discussed.  Peter Reinharz discussed the complicated and confusing method that the NYC Finance Department uses to set market and assessed property values and calculate the tax.  There is a move by many citizens to create a more transparent method of assessment, namely, match current property market value with the Assessed Value, and then lower the tax rate.  We will request Paul Vallone, John Liu and other officials to attend the September meeting to explain their position on this issue and how they would improve the methodology.

 

Third, the membership discussed the troubling situation with parents in cars dropping off and -- especially -- picking up their children from PS-94.  The cars double park on both 41st Drive and 42nd Avenue, idling their engines often for 20-30 minutes or more.  Children cross between cars to reach their parents, which is very dangerous.  Cars pull out and drive away through the narrowed street, creating a risk to the children and other cars.  We will invite the police department to our May meeting (as we usually do), and we will also invite representatives from PS-94 to discuss what might be done to improve the situation.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 PM.  The next meeting is May 20, 2019           

 

Respectfully submitted,  Charles Mana