The March and May 2020 membership meetings of the Westmoreland Association were cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  The September meeting was held "virtually" on Zoom.

 Minutes of the November 16,2020

General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

 

Officers Present

President – Walter Mugdan

Secretary – Charles Manna

Treasurer – Gary Savage

 

Board Members Present

John Duane

Bob Timmerman

Philip Toscano

Namshik Yoon

 

Officials Present

Jonathan Gallo, representing State Senator John Liu

Amber Yoon, representing Assemblyman Ed Braunstein

 

Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the general membership meeting was conducted via Zoom.com.  Walter Mugdan thanked Gary Savage and Namshik Yoon for setting up the Zoom meeting link and preparing the instructions for the members so that they could join the meeting. 

 

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 announced that the balance-on-hand was about $17,832.56.  So far, 78 families have paid the annual dues.  This is fewer than in most past years.  Gary sent handwritten letters to a number of residents who had paid dues in the past, but not yet this year.  Since the September 2020 meeting we have collected $525 in dues and $335 in donations.  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded, and the report was unanimously approved.

 

New and Old Business

 

Report from the NYPD: We were joined at the meeting by Captain John Portalatin, Commanding Officer of the 111th NYPD Precinct.  He reported that the precinct is among the safest in New York.  The primary crime issues are robbery and burglary.  He urged everyone to keep their house doors and their cars locked.  A question was asked about enforcement of the requirement to wear face coverings when in public; the questioner noted that the young people who play ball at Admiral Park almost never wear masks.  The Captain said he would have his officers drive by and encourage them to comply.  Another resident noted that his car had been "keyed" a few months ago, and a neighbor's car had also been "keyed."  This vandalism happened near the intersection of Westmoreland and 41st Drive.  The captain said he would note this for his patrol officers and ask them to be on the watch.

 

4th Annual Glenwood Landing Cleanups:  After the Captain left the meeting, Walter reported on two successful recent cleanups of the Glenwood Landing park.  On October 17 some 17 local residents participated in a cleanup and planting of daffodil, hyacinth and crocus bulbs, as well as several chrysanthemums and ornamental cabbages.  The bulbs and plants were donated by the Douglaston Garden Club, which co-sponsored the cleanup event.  On November 14 the Garden Club and the Little Neck-Douglaston Lions Club co-hosted another cleanup, after the leaves had fallen; they collected 35 bags of leaves and yard waste.  Our thanks to both clubs!

 

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

 

Walter noted that at the September 2020 meeting several residents of 41st Drive expressed concern about the Westmoreland Association's endorsement, in 2019, of certain changes to the traffic pattern around PS-94.  Specifically, they were concerned about our recommendation that one block of 41st Drive between Westmoreland and Little Neck Parkway (LNP) be made into a one-way street westbound towards LNP.  On October 20 Walter met (by Zoom) with five residents of 41st drive, including the two who expressed their concerns at the September general membership meeting.  At the November 16 meeting these five residents were in attendance.  Arasu Jambukeswaran served as the spokesperson for the group, and ultimately offered a motion (see below).  Alan Rubin, Ariel Chen, and Wilson and Roseann Milian also spoke.  All agreed that safety of the school children is the primary objective.  Arasu acknowledged a secondary objective and benefit of the One Way plan, which is to deter drivers in the afternoon rush hour from using 41st Drive, and the Westmoreland community generally, as a way to avoid the dense traffic on the Little Neck stretch of Northern Boulevard. 

 

Walter explained that the One Way proposal is intended to make traffic on this block safer and smoother during school drop off and pickup times.  The north side of the street is typically filled with parked cars (from residents, LIRR commuters and school teachers).  Parents therefore stand on the south side of the street, leaving a relatively narrow passage for two way traffic between the row of standing cars on one side and parked cars on the other.

 

Arasu noted that often the standing cars on the south side of the street stand partially on the curb, which is illegal.  Walter agreed, but noted that they do so to provide more lane space for the two-way traffic.  Arasu expressed the view that making the block One Way full-time was an extreme measure, without a satisfactory risk/reward balance.  Alan added that safety and congestion are the major concerns, but stated his opinion that making the block One Way won't be an improvement.  He cited studies that show cars move more slowly on two way streets than on one way streets because of "friction," and that there are more pedestrian accidents on one way streets. He cited NYC data that there were two accidents in our area between 2009 and 2020, both near the intersection of LNP and 42nd Ave. (which is one way eastbound).  He recommended that for some distance east of the intersection of LNP, there be No Parking on 41st Drive.  Ariel expressed concerns about the safety of children crossing 41st Drive near the LNP intersection, and expressed her opinion that making traffic one way would not help.  She advocated that a crossing guard be posted at this intersection.

 

Lander Bravo pointed out that PS-94 had previously requested a crossing guard for that intersection, and the request was denied.  Walter pointed out that unlike changes to the traffic pattern, which are relatively cheap, one-time expenditures, in the control of the NYCDOT, a crossing guard is in the control of the NYPD and is relatively expensive; there would also be equity concerns -- other schools would likely also want additional crossing guards at additional intersections.  Lander pointed out that crossing LNP is not permitted at the 41st drive intersection, only at the 42nd Ave. intersection.  Wilson and Roseann advocated for the crossing guard.  They added that if the block is made One Way, there must be a 4-way stop at the Westmoreland intersection.

 

Walter replied that a 4-way stop at the Westmoreland intersection was explicitly part of the 2019 Westmoreland Association proposal, as well as the elimination of several parking spots on the north side of 41st Drive, east from LNP.  He added that the Association could certainly endorse a crossing guard as well, but it was much less likely to succeed.

 

Two other 41st Drive residents were also in attendance, who expressed different views.  Herb Doyle, who in 2019 proposed the plan that the Association endorsed, spoke in favor of that proposal.  Katherine Mueller stated that she was not opposed to the One Way proposal, but if it was implemented she felt it was imperative to have a 4-way stop at the intersection with Westmoreland Street.

 

There was discussion about the possibility of a part time One Way street -- e.g., from 7-9 AM and 2-4 PM on school days.  Walter noted that this had been discussed at some length in 2019 and the sense of the members at that time was that this would be unreliable and more difficult to enforce.

 

Arasu closed the discussion by saying that he is proud to be part of a community that cares greatly about safety and other community concerns, even if there are different opinions about how best to achieve those objectives.

 

Walter undertook to articulate what he believed would be the elements of the motion that Arasu was offering on behalf of the five residents with concerns about the One Way proposal.  Arasu and the four other 41st Drive residents acknowledged that  Walter had correctly captured the essence of their suggestions.  Walter agreed to undertake to write the motion and share it with Arasu prior to compiling these minutes, which has since been done (see below). Walter said the motion would be held over until the March 2021 meeting.  Information about the Motion, and also about the plan endorsed by the Association in 2019, would be provided to the membership in advance of the March 2021 meeting, at which time a vote on the motion would be taken

 

The confirmed text of the motion, which has several elements, is as follows:

 

Motion: 

  • That the Westmoreland Association withdraw its support of the proposal to make the one block of 41st Drive between Westmoreland Street and Little Neck Parkway (LNP) One Way westbound; and

  • that the Association instead endorse the elimination of several parking spots on the north side of 41st Drive, immediately east of the intersection with LNP; and

  • that the Association also request a crossing guard to be posted at this intersection during school hours; and

  • that the Association request a 4-way stop at the intersection of 41st Drive and Westmoreland Street.

 

For the record, the Motion was made by Arasu and effectively seconded by Alan, Ariel, Roseann and Wilson.

 

The proposals in the 2nd and 4th bullets, above, are already included in the Association's 2019 proposal. 

 

The Association's leadership remains persuaded that our 2019 endorsement of the One Way proposal should be retained, but is committed to a full discussion and vote on the above Motion at our March 2021 meeting.  

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 PM.

 

The next meeting is on Monday, March 15, 2021.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Walter Mugdan

 

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Minutes of the October 21,2020 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

 

Officers Present

President – Walter Mugdan

Vice President - Victor Dadras

Secretary – Charles Manna

Treasurer – Gary Savage

 

Board Members Present

John Duane

Peter Reinharz

Bob Timmerman

Philip Toscano

Namshik Yoon

 

Officials Present

State Senator John Liu

Amber Yoon, representing Assemblyman Ed Braunstein

 

Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the general membership meeting was conducted via Zoom.com.  Walter Mugdan thanked Gary Savage and Namshik Yoon for setting up the Zoom meeting link and preparing the instructions for the members so that they could join the meeting. 

 

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.) 

 

Walter mentioned that there were five years of minutes available on the new Westmoreland website.  The new website is: https://www.westmorelandassn.org/ .  The website also contains a copy of the Covenants.  Also, there is historical information about our neighborhood’s past.

 

Treasurer Gary Savage announced that the balance-on-hand was about $17,460. So far, only sixty-three families have paid the annual dues.  Currently we have collected $585 dues and $610 in donations. A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded, and the report was unanimously approved.

 

Walter mentioned that because our March and May meetings were cancelled due to the pandemic, we did not have our usual election this past Spring.  However, all of the current Westmoreland Association officers and board members agreed to continue to serve.  Walter thanked everybody for their continuing interest and participation.

 

New and Old Business

 

Walter reported that the Third Annual Glenwood Landing Park Spring Cleanup had to be canceled due to the pandemic.  However, several brave souls, including Gary and Junko Savage, did spend a Saturday morning cleaning and raking and planting.  Thanks for the effort!

 

Walter announced that the Fourth Annual Glenwood Landing Park FALL Cleanup and Daffodil Planting event, co-sponsored by the Douglaston Garden Club, is being planned for Saturday, October 17, from 10 AM to 1 PM.  Announcements with details will be sent by email and posted on our Facebook page in early October.  All are welcome to come and help out for an hour or the entire time.  Masks must be worn, and social distancing maintained.  (We will have extra masks on hand for anybody who needs one.)

 

State Senator John Liu joined the meeting.

 

  • Sen. Liu discussed the controversy surrounding the opening of the public schools in New York City.  He is overtly critical of the preparation made by the Mayor for the new school year.  He believes that not enough planning was done and few parents, teachers, administrators and staff feel confident that the schools are ready for a safe and successful opening.  

  • To further complicate the issue, many families do not have the facility to go online and so the option of distance learning is not available for many students.  Also, the fact that parents may opt to keep their children home another semester is creating severe financial, emotional and educational hardship for the families.  In addition, many children depend on school lunches as an important part of their daily diet.

  • At the beginning of the Summer, 20% of parents wanted remote learning for their children in the coming school year.  Now 50% of parents want to keep their children home in District 26.

  • There is an estimated one-billion-dollar shortfall in the city’s annual budget.  It is expected to expand to over five billion dollars in the next several years.   The state is expecting a $4B deficit this year and $16B in the next several years.  The only solution to this impending disaster is funding from the federal government.  However, Congress is stalemated and, as a result, states and municipalities are on the brink of bankruptcy.

  • The NY State Assembly is considering an increase of income tax to those who are earning over $3,000,000 by paying a surcharge.

  • Sen. Liu mourned the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  He praised her accomplishments and record-making achievements.  He stated his view that her passing could not have happened at a worst moment.

  • Sen. Liu discussed the unfortunate loss of more of our old, stately trees during the recent tropical storm.  The great, old trees contribute to our beautiful neighborhood.  They are also home and safe-haven to many native species of mammals and birds. In addition, they provide fresh air and shade to our neighborhood.

 

Senator Liu then invited questions from the membership.

 

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

 

At the November 2019 meeting, discussion continued from that two prior Association meetings concerning proposals for traffic improvements in the community in and 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.

 

At the November 2019 meeting the members reconsidered the 43rd Avenue proposal and voted to rescind the recommendation that it be made One Way.  The reasons to rescind were:  (1) most of the residents of that block expressed their opposition; (2) he suggestion to adopt the One Way proposal for 43rd Avenue had not been announced in advance; and (3) the proposal was not integrally related to our primary objective, which is to improve traffic safety around PS-94. 

 

In August, 2020 Association Vice President Victor Dadras communicated with Queens Borough Deputy Transportation Commissioner Al Silvestri.  The Commissioner reported that his staff had reviewed the PS-94 traffic situation and agreed with the proposal to make the one block of 41st Drive One Way.  However, he was under the impression that the recommendation was to make it One Way towards Westmoreland.  Victor made it clear that it is our proposal to make it One Way towards LNP, and since 42nd Avenue is already One Way towards Westmoreland, making 41st Drive One Way in the same direction would make no sense.  Commissioner Silvestri agreed that DOT would carry out a further review.

 

We hope to have an informal meeting with the DOT professionals, possibly in person and on-site, to review this matter.  If and when DOT makes a formal proposal we will notify all members, and notify all residents of 41st Drive specifically in writing.  We will provide information about when and how any questions/comments/concerns can be voiced.

 

Two members present at the September 21 meeting expressed continuing concerns about the proposal to make 41st Drive One Way, and asked to participate in the informal meeting  with DOT if it takes place.  Walter agreed that a limited number of residents, including these members, would be welcome to join if that meeting occurs. Representatives from the PS-94 administration would also be invited.  He assured everyone that no specific proposal or decisions have been made by DOT.  He also assured the members that all points of view would continue to be considered. 

 

New Business

Speed cameras are being installed all over the city near schools.  Two are located on Marathon Parkway between Northern Blvd and the LIE.  Speed limits on many major city thoroughfares including Northern Blvd. have been reduced to 25 mph.

 

Nam and Patricia Yoon reported that an American flag mounted on their house was stolen.  This occurred inJuly.

 

Miguel Mora -- one of the NYPD officers assigned to our Sector of the 111th Precinct – reported in July that twenty cars in the neighborhood were broken into recently.  All were unlocked; one had the keys in the car, and the car itself was stolen (though it was later recovered).

 

Covid-19 brings out the best and worst.  For several months there have been racist graffiti found in Udalls Cove Park and other places around the neighborhood.  We painted them out when we saw them.

 

Another car was keyed two weeks ago on Westmoreland Street near 41st Drive.  We will report this ongoing problem to the NYPD.

 

Walter reported that a resident of the Broadway-Flushing community, which has Rickert-Finlay protective convents very similar to those incorporated in the deeds of homes in Douglas Manor and in our Westmoreland area, claimed that the covenants are racist and discriminatory.  To date we are aware of only one person making this assertion, and we firmly reject the allegation. 

 

A house on Glenwood Street, straddling the Queens/Nassau border, had renovation construction work underway on weekends despite the fact that a Cease and Desist Order from the Town of North Hempstead (Nassau) building department was posted on the door.  The reason for the order was that construction permits had not been issued.  Walter Mugdan spoke with the owner, and advised that construction work should immediately stop, in compliance with the Order.  Walter informed the owner that the matter would be reported to the Town of North Hempstead buildings department.  The owner has complied with the Order since then.

 

A house on Nassau Road has advertised as an Air B&B.  This is a violation of the covenants, and also of the Town of North Hempstead rules.  The matter was reported to the Town of North Hempstead. 

 

Five kittens were born to a stray cat, and the mother and kittens are being cared for by a resident on Glenwood Street.  They are very friendly and sweet, and need forever homes.  We have  posted pictures of the kittens on our Facebook page.  If anyone is willing and able to invite a loving companion into their home, please contact us at 718-224-7256 or by email at westmorelandassn@aol.com    So far, three of the five have been adopted.  Please consider take the rest to save them.

 

Bob Timmerman asked if the number of Stop signs can be increased from two to four at the intersection of Westmoreland and 41st Drive.  Walter reported that at least three times over the past 10 or 15 years our Association has requested this from the DOT, along with 4-way Stop signs at the intersections of Morgan and Glenwood with 41st Drive.  So far, the  DOT does not see the justification for the additions and has rejected our repeated requests.

 

Walter mentioned that in Spring we and other civic associations surveyed businesses that remained open or reopened during the Corona virus shutdown.  The purpose was to promote support to our local business.  [Note -> there seem to be fewer massage parlors on Northern Boulevard at the present time – one good outcome!]

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 PM.

 

The next meeting is on Monday, November 16, 2020.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Charles Manna,  Secretary

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