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QUEENS CIVIC CONGRESS, Inc. Queens Civic Congress P.O. Box 670706 Flushing, NY 11367 Ashook Ramsaran, Editor
QUEENS CIVIC CONGRESS, Inc.
Queens Civic Congress
P.O. Box 670706
Flushing, NY 11367
Ashook Ramsaran, Editor
NOVEMBER 2016
VOLUME 19
ISSUE 4
QUEENS CIVIC CONGRESS
Message from the President, Harbachan Singh
In the next few days, my successor, Mr. Kevin Forrestal, will be taking over the Presidency of the
Queens Civic Congress. As you know, he is a very talented and an experienced person and will no
doubt do a great job and fight hard for our member associations. Congratulations!
It has been two years since I took over the helm of the Queens Civic Congress and I must say that my
experience and knowledge has been enriched exponentially. It gave me immense opportunities to learn
at greater depths some of the subjects that we were involved in and sensed acute appreciation of the
substantial time and efforts that are devoted by all the members who volunteer their valuable time and
who made huge sacrifices on behalf of their colleagues and neighbors to keep Queens the best place to
live in. I applaud the efforts of everyone involved.
Our subjects and concerns cover a wide scope. Some of the issues QCC raised recently related to the
Mayor’s zoning for affordability and MIH programs, airplane noise at JFK and LaGuardia airport
vicinities, tolls on East River bridges, bike lanes, Select Bus Service, homeless shelters, inadequate
public transport system, landmarking and preservation designations, small business’ tenancies, fracking
projects, commuter van service, unreasonable increases in water rates, unattended building violations,
unjust granting of building variances, proposal to legalize basement apartments, proposal for the
commercial use of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, etc. We also provided forums for opposing groups
to air their respective side of the case relating to the reactivation of the abandoned Rockaway Beach
Branch rail line or turning it into a linear park called Queensway Park, and provided a forum for
political candidates to explain their respective platforms. Written communications, visits to agency
heads, protest rallies, press releases or collaboration with elected officials and coordinating efforts with
them were some of the modus operandi tools utilized.
Thank you and my sincere Season’s Greetings to all.
Queens Civic Congress, formed in 1997, is a registered New York State non-profit organization representing more than 100 civic and other
community organizations throughout the Borough of Queens in New York City, is committed to the protection and advancement of the
“Quality of Life”, to provide a forum for the civic associations and neighborhood organizations, to develop and present common policies
and positions, and to furnish effective leadership and advocacy for the advancement of the welfare and interests of Queens' neighborhoods

QUEENS CIVIC CONGRESS OFFICIALS

COMMITTEES & CHAIRS 2017

President Executive Vice President Executive Secretary Treasurer

Kevin J. Forrestal Richard Hellenbrecht Sey Schwartz Jim Trent

Vice Presidents

Tyler Cassell, Henry Euler, Rene Hill, Barbara Larkin, John McCaffrey, Kim Ohanian, Ashook Ramsaran, Warren Schreiber, Harbachan Singh, Phil Wong

Founder Aviation & Noise Coops & Condos Education Membership Committee Audit Committee Health & Human Services Legislation Communications Parks & Cultural Affairs Public Safety Transportation Hospitality

Robert (Bob) Harris Richard Hellenbrecht & Warren Schreiber Robert Freidrich & Warren Schreiber Kevin J. Forrestal (Acting) Richard Hellenbrecht & Jim Trent Tyler Cassell Kevin J. Forrestal Sey Schwartz Ashook Ramsaran Barbara Larkin & Kim Ohanian Kim Ohanian Jim Trent Rene Hill

Planning, Land Use, Zoning & Code Enforcement Congress Platform

Tyler Cassell John McCaffrey

Ad Hoc Committee Homeless Issues Youth NextGen Committee

Phil Wong Ashook Ramsaran

Other Ad Hoc Committees may be established as required. Members are requested to volunteer their services to the respective chairs & committees.

 

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UPCOMING EVENTS CALENDAR Queens Civic Congress (QCC) Legislative Reception on:

UPCOMING EVENTS CALENDAR Queens Civic Congress (QCC) Legislative Reception on:

Date & Time: Sunday, December 4, 2015 at 1:00pm Venue: Douglaston Club located at 600 West Drive, Douglaston, NY 11363 Ticket: $40. Each attendee RSVP: Jim Trent, Treasurer at jtrent8830@aol.com Payment: Queens Civic Congress Foundation, 242-33 90 th Ave, Bellerose, NY 11426

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HISTORY OF THE CIVIC MOVEMENT IN QUEENS

By James A. Trent

The Borough of Queens is renowned throughout the City for the strength and organization of the civic movement. It started as soon as the suburbanization of Queens began in the earliest days of the 20th Century. The oldest civic association from these early days, and which survives to the present day, is the Auburndale Improvement Association founded in 1905. Other early associations still in existence are the St. Albans Improvement Association, (1906), the Malba Association (1908), the Kew Gardens Civic Association (1914), the Westmoreland Association (1917), and the Neponsit Property Owners Association (1919).

In the 1940s, the Borough was divided into six regions, and civic associations joined the civic council representing their respective geographic area. These regional councils were the Civic Council of Southern Queens, the Eastern Queens Civic Council, the United Civic Council, the Central Queens Civic Council, the North Shore Council of Homeowners, and the Queens County Civic Council. The Councils, in turn sent delegates to a central coordinating group called the Federation of Civic Councils of the Borough of Queens. This group incorporated in 1962. In either 1964 or 1965 it held its first civic convention at a hotel at Idlewild Airport (today’s Kennedy Airport). About 1,000 civic leaders and members attended. These conventions, later called luncheons, continue to the present day, although attendance has shrunken to about 200.

Over the years, however, only two civic councils remained active: the United Civic Council and the Eastern Queens Civic Council. It was decided that we needed to revive the central coordinating mechanism to replace the moribund Federation of Civic Councils of the Borough of Queens. In 1997 the Queens Civic Congress was incorporated as a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit entity. This was followed by a sister organization called the Queens Civic Congress Foundation in 2003. This group enjoys 501(c)(3) status as a charity. It serves as a conduit for grants with a focus on education, not advocacy. In its new format, civic associations join the borough-wide Queens Civic Congress directly, without the intermediate step of belonging to a regional council. At its peak of strength around 2008, the Queens Civic Congress had a paid membership of 110 civic associations.

Queens Civic Congress via its Foundation hold two unique events: the annual Legislative Reception in December at which civic leaders get to sit down and discuss civic issues directly with their elected representatives from City, State, and Federal levels of government. About 130 people attend each year. The other event is the biennial Queens Civic Luncheon held to sponsor speakers, give out awards, and sometimes offer visual presentations on current topics.

 

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Homelessness A Borough-Wide Epic Crisis -- Phil Wong

On a mid-afternoon in early October a DHS van full of single homeless men quietly checked into the Holiday Inn Express (HLE) Hotel in Maspeth. The van dropped them off at the back entrance of the hotel, and the residents were told this is their assigned entrance and they could not use the front door. The van made several more trips in the next few days, bringing a total of 30 single men into HLE. The hotel entered a hybrid arrangement with DHS, with certain floors of the hotel occupied by the homeless while the rest are reserved for regular hotel guests.

These single rooms do not come cheap to the taxpayers, at a daily rate of $160 per night the city pays over $4,800 per room per month. Senator Addabbo compared the HLE to a “prison-like setting” with metal detectors, 24-hour surveillance, security guards on every floor and a curfew. This is clearly the

return of segregation, something Maspeth has not seen since the 1950’s. Meanwhile if you go to

Craigslist and search for Maspeth 1-room apartments, you get dozens of results at 1/3 to 1/2 the price the city is paying the hotel owners. Many homeless residents have mental health or substance abuse issues, and are in urgent need of medical care. With zero social services provided in these hotels, it’s clear that DHS is doing nothing to bring the residents back on their feet and to leave the system. Therefore it is also clear the city is not interested in saving money but to only warehouse the homeless and keep them in the system for extended periods of time.

On October 5 th , Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Senators Joseph Addabbo and Jose Peralta held a press conference outside City Hall denouncing Mayor de Blasio's mishandling of the homeless crisis. On October 21st, Councilman Ulrich led a protest with dozens of civic organizations outside City Hall with a similar theme -- "The Mayor’s Homeless Policy is Hopeless." With dozens of hotels being converted to homeless shelters, while more than 60,000 people currently staying in the New York City shelter system, the currently policies on handling the homeless are not working. Warehousing homeless New Yorkers is simply not the solution, but the Mayor and DHS think otherwise.

In recent months we witnessed protests all over Queens wherever hotels got flipped into shelters, from

Maspeth to Bellerose to Floral Park to Rockaway. City Hall and DHS counterattacked by stating “these NIMBYs don’t care about poor people,” “they oppose the shelters because they hate the homeless,” and “they oppose the shelters because they are racists.” The common theme here is “The Mayor’s homeless solution is the only solution, you are against the Mayor’s policies because you are against the

homeless.” To Councilwoman Crowley and many other elected officials, these policies are evidence of incompetence. The annual DHS budget has hit $1.7 billion for the 2016-17 fiscal year with no cap in

sight, it’s futile for the agency to fight an economic dislocation crisis.

Several elected official proposed various solutions. Governor Cuomo set aside $2 billion dollars to help the homeless statewide. Assemblyman Hevesi has a well-planned, $500 million homeless solution to cover more affordable housing and rent subsidies. However these plans will take some time to implement so we need other immediate solutions. Comptroller Scott Stringer proposed several good ideas, including the immediate development of hundreds of vacant acres into affordable housing, placing mobile homes into these lots, and utilizing apartment building seized by tax liens and legal settlements. However, none of these proposals appealed to the Mayor.

Continued ……

 

Youth Civic Report - by Ashook Ramsaran

Presented at QCC Board Meeting on 9-20-16, it is a comprehensive report based on interview conducted on 8/3/16 at residence of Jim Trent at 242-33 90 th Avenue, Bellerose, New York. Participants included: Jim Trent, Ashook Ramsaran, Beverly McDermott, Richie Lipkowitz, Reshad Hai, Alexander Pan and Brandon Chin. The report was based on excellent study and analyses comprising the following details:

Introduction

History of Queens Civic Congress (QCC)

Civic Structure

Issues: Suburbanization, Suburbanization, commuting, Technology. Demographic changes,

Migration in USA/NYC, Decline of importance of civic associations, Benefits of social capital. Suggestions/Actions items/Recommendations:

 

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Political and social issues

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PTA issues/schools

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Community service opportunities

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Improving civic association participation

o

Junior civics

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Benefits

o

On-line engagement

o

Grants for youth work/civics

o

Investments in social capital

QCC approval for QCC NextGen Committee with QCC mentor(s) and youth as members. Ashook Ramsaran was assigned the role as QCC mentor for NextGen Committee; other QCC members encouraged to join the NextGen Committee.

 

******** Homelessness A Borough-Wide Epic Crisis (Cont’d)

Other statewide solutions are also feasible. The obvious one is for the Governor to call for a State Constitution Convention to amend the Right to Shelter Law. This current law attracts the homeless from out of state, and it encourages voluntary homelessness by giving priority to shelter applicants for rent vouchers and NYCHA apartments. Another approach is to relocate the homeless to sparsely populated towns outside New York City. For the past 20 years we witnessed manufacturing jobs leaving upstate to other countries in Asia or Mexico, leaving behind many vacant neighborhoods. These towns offer below market rents with existing infrastructure and social services. For these

solutions to work the Mayor has to work closely with the Governor. Unfortunately we don’t see that

happening in the foreseeable future.

Queens’ residents generally are sympathetic to the suffering of our less fortunate New Yorkers. We

know that any of us can become homeless ourselves and it is in our best interest to have a shelter system that works. However, we cannot support de Blasio’s policy of irresponsibly warehousing the homeless. We cannot support a shelter system where vendors are selected with no ULURP process and where it costs taxpayers almost $5,000 a month per room to house homeless families in tiny rooms; and where politically connected building owners and shelter operators reap the benefits off the backs of hardworking taxpayers and the homeless. The current homeless policies are not viable they create segregation, inequality, and it opens a new chapter in a tale of two cities.

 

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The Problems with Speed Bumps – Tyler Cassell Community Boards, legislators and Department of Transportation (DOT)
The Problems with Speed Bumps – Tyler Cassell
Community Boards, legislators and Department of Transportation (DOT) have seen a spike in the
number of requests for speed bumps by residents looking for traffic slowing and safety solutions on
their streets. Be aware, that being too quick to act in favor of speed bumps can cause your community
a lot of grief in the future. Many cities and towns across the country who hastily installed speed bumps
are now wishing they hadn’t and are now taking action to get those costly mistakes removed. This has
proved to be a tough uphill battle.
A DOT traffic study will determine if any traffic remediation is warranted. The area Community
Board usually sends out a form asking affected residents if they are in favor of them or not. To the
yes/no questionnaire, many residents respond YES wanting something rather than nothing to be done.
The local civic association and Council member are usually brought into the loop for their opinion.
Many are moving away from the antiquated speed bump solution to better and lower cost alternatives
such as traffic lights, radar speed calibrators, 4-way stops, 2-way stops, flashing lights, increased
signage, pedestrian crossway signs and increased street markings.
Most have found that the negatives connected with speed bump offer compelling reasons to vote NO
for them. For example: Speed bumps slow emergency vehicle times by 5-10 seconds for each bump,
meaning that a fire truck or ambulance would take longer to reach YOU in an emergency. 30-seconds
can mean the difference between life and death. They almost double the air pollution levels by the
bumps! They increase noise levels when drivers constantly slow down and speed up near the bumps.
Most trucks and garbage trucks rarely slow down at all when hitting the bumps because they don’t own
the truck. There is added potential vehicle and personal injury risk resulting in lawsuits against the
City when drivers hit them without slowing down. Studies have shown that they decrease property
value for those who live on that street and nearby. They create unnecessary delay and snow removal
problems for City snow plows during winter storms.
They increase wear and tear on a car’s brakes, tires, suspension system, shock absorbers, lessen your
fuel efficiency, and rattle your dashboard. They encourage other dangerous driving activity such
driving around them to avoid hitting them with all 4 wheels. In some cases, cars have jumped the
curbs and hit trees, fire hydrants and innocent pedestrians walking there. Bicycle riders hate them and
generally swerve around them causing them to weave in and out of traffic. Many local residents find
them a nuisance and will adjust their vehicle route accordingly to avoid them. In the long run, they
just reroute the traffic problem to other blocks, and they don’t really change driver behavior very
much.
Many of us in Queens have learned that the mayor’s Vision Zero 25 mph speed limit means 25 mph
after getting a summons from a camera enforced location around our neighborhoods. It’s worked,
we’ve slowed down. In the end, the simple posting of a couple more 25 mph camera enforced signs
may be your best solution to traffic slowing in your community.

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QCC Annual Legislative Luncheon – April 17, 2016 Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District
QCC Annual Legislative Luncheon – April 17, 2016
Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District
Melinda Katz, Queens Borough President
Preet Bharara with QCC officials & Civic Members
Honorees & officials Grodenchik, Rozic, Avella, Katz, Bharara
QCC Officials with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
NYS Sen Avella with C.O.M.E.T.
NYS Assemblyman David Weprin with NextGen Youths
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara with NextGen Youths

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QUEENS CIVIC CONGRESS

P.O. Box 670706 Flushing, NY 11367

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Queens Civic Congress Membership 2016

Addisleigh Park Civic Organization Arverne Civic Association Auburndale Improvement Association, Inc. Bayside Clear Spring Council Bayside Hills Civic Association Bayside Historical Society Bayswater Civic Association Bay Terrace Community Alliance, Inc. Bay Terrace Cooperative Section #1 Belle Harbor Property Owners Association Bellerose Commonwealth Civic Association Bellerose-Hillside Civic Association Bowne Park Civic Association Briarwood Community Association Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Cambria Heights Civic Association Central Queens Historical Association Clearview Gardens Corps. Coalition for Queens C.O.M.E.T. (Communities of Maspeth-Elmhurst Together) Concerned Citizens of Laurelton Creedmoor Civic Association Deerfield Area Civic Association Doug-Bay Manor Civic Association Douglas Manor Association Douglaston Civic Association Dutch Kills Civic Assn. Of Long Island City East Elmhurst/Corona Civic Association Elmhurst United Federated Block Associations of Laurelton Federation of Civic Assns. of Southeast Queens, The Flushing Heights Civic Association Flushing on the Hill Taxpayers Association

Forest Hills Crescents Civic Association Forest Hills - Van Court Association Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Assoc. Friends of Fort Totten Parks Georgetown Mews Glen Oaks Village Owners, Inc. Greater Astoria Historical Society Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Assn., Inc. Harding Heights Civic Association Hillcrest Estates Civic Association Hilltop Village Co-Op #4 Hollis 11423 Block Association Hollis Hills Civic Association Holliswood Civic Association Hollis Park Gardens Civic Association Holly Civic Association Hyde Park Owners Corp. Jackson Heights Beautification Group Jamaica Estates Association. Jamaica Hill Community Association Juniper Park Civic Association Kew Gardens Civic Association Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners Civic Association Kew Gardens Improvement Association Kissena Park Civic Association Little Neck Bay Civic Association Little Neck Pines Lost Community Civic Association Malba Civic Association Meadowlark Gardens Owners, Inc. Middle Village Property Owners Mitchell Linden Civic Association Neponsit Property Owners' Association, Inc

Newtown Civic Association Newtown Historical Society North Bellerose Civic Assoc. North East Flushing Civic Association North Flushing Civic Association North Hills Estates Civic Association Northwest Bayside Civic Association Oakland Gardens/Terrace Community Council Off Broadway Homeowners Association Old Forest Hills, Association of Our Neighborhood Improvement Association. Parkway Village Historical Society Queens Colony Civic Association Queens Community Civic Corporation Queens Preservation Council Queens Village Civic Association. Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association Ramblersville-Hawtree Civic Association Richmond Hill Historical Society Ridgewood Property Owners Rockaway Civic Association Rocky Hill Civic Association Rosedale Civic Association Royal Ranch Civic Association, Inc. St. Albans Civic Improvement Association South Ozone Park Civic Association West United Veterans Mutual Housing - see Bell Park M. T. Utopia Estates, Civic Association of Waldheim Neighborhood Association Wayanda Civic Association West Cunningham Park Civic Assoc. Westmoreland Association Woodside Community Council

Annual Membership Dues $35.

As the city and state cut back on services in your neighborhoods and raise taxes and fees, your civic organizations need QCC more than ever to speak out for Queens’s fair share of public services and to limit tax increases on Queens’ residents.

Mail your membership to:

Queens Civic Congress Attn: Jim Trent, Treasurer 242-33 90 Avenue Bellerose, NY 11426