Issues ranging from fuel conversions to enhanced crosswalks were on the agenda as Community Board 6 met on April 11.
The key presentation was made by Bethany Bowyer of the NYC Clean Heat program, which is focusing on three primary goals: to achieve the cleanest air of any big U.S. city, to reduce energy consumption, and to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent.
Mayor Bloomberg launched the Clean Heat program last year to accelerate adoption of the cleanest fuels, requiring buildings to convert from the most polluting heating oil (#6) beginning in July of this year. City regulations require the phasing out of #6 oil by 2015.
Bowyer said eliminating the use of heavy heating oils is one of the highest impact strategies that can be undertaken to make the city’s air quality the cleanest of any major city in the country.
Beginning July 1, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection will no longer approve certificates of operation for #6 oil. These permits will be completely eliminated by 2015.
In addition, all buildings must convert to the cleanest fuels (#2 oil, biodiesel, natural gas or steam) by 2030, or when replacing boilers, whichever happens sooner.
According to a report distributed by Bowyer, Queens is home to 12 percent of buildings using heavy oil citywide. Community District 6 has 121 buildings burning heavy oil, making up less than 1 percent of buildings burning heavy oil citywide.
All buildings burning heavy oil in the district are residential. While old equipment exists, the city claims most burners can withstand a conversion to #2, biodiesel or gas without replacement.
A brief presentation was offered on Resorts World Casino, which, according to CB 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio, “affects Queens and all of New York City economically.”
Michelle Stoddart, director of public relations for the casino, announced that since it opened in October the complex has attracted “large numbers of people,” adding “We’d like our property to benefit and all of Queens to be seen as a destination” of fun-seekers.
Stoddart said in addition to two casinos, visitors have several dining options, a buffet, a food court, or more formal restaurants.
According to Stoddart, the casino has already returned to the state $105 million towards education. “We hope to continue that trend,” she said.
“The entire family can come out and there’s something for everybody,” she said.
Patrick Jenkins, who handles the casino’s community relations, added that Resorts World has provided over 1,500 jobs, with new job opportunities opening all the time, offering careers in gaming, including management, security and food and beverage services. He said that over 70 percent of the casino’s employees are from Queens.
In his report, Gulluscio indicated that in a letter to Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Queens community boards requested that their operating budgets be exempted from the proposed 6 percent cut for fiscal year 2013, fully restored to their current baseline and protected from future budget cuts.
“Community boards provide extraordinary value with meager budgets,” the letter reads in part. “Stretching resources beyond the current state of austerity is tantamount to eliminating their ability to perform basic charter-mandated functions.”
The Transportation Committee addressed various issues, including the Department of Transportation’s proposal to enhance the crosswalks along Queens Boulevard by extending them and increasing the traffic islands, thereby cutting down on the distance pedestrians will have to travel in the roadway in order to cross.
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) said she has just poured $1 million in public funding into “making the center lanes really pretty,” prompting the committee to recommend any DOT improvements must be made in coordination with Koslowitz’s proposed enhancements.
She also has introduced legislation that would require the DOT to notify community boards of any changes in traffic signs and give citizens two weeks’ leeway to adjust to the changes.