Before taking a break for the summer, Community Board 6 held its last regularly scheduled meeting on June 12, and the news was almost all good.
Capt. Thomas Conforti, commanding officer of the 112th Precinct, announced that, overall, crime in the area is down 2 percent so far this year, compared to the same time frame a year ago. One exception came with an increase in the number of burglaries in the neighborhood, but thanks to several recent arrests, the spike has been reversed.
“A few people can do major damage,” Conforti said, referring to several individuals believed responsible for a rash of recent burglaries involving forced entry into laundry rooms in multiple dwelling apartment buildings. According to Conforti, they have been apprehended, along with another individual accused of threatening cab drivers with a syringe he said contained his AIDS-infected blood.
The captain said there have also been a total of 56 arrests so far this year in the fight against graffiti.
He also reminded those in attendance that the 30th annual Night Out Against Crime will take place in August in MacDonald Park, located on Queens Boulevard at Yellowstone Boulevard. He suggested the event would be a good opportunity for the community to get together, pick up literature on various issues and enjoy refreshments.
One concerned citizen, Sandra Morote, whose restaurant, Biu Bella Caffe, is located at 107-02 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills, across the street from the park, told the captain she has, on more than one occasion, observed young people partying and doing drugs in the park, and that her calls to 911 have gone unheeded.
“This is the first I’m hearing of it,” Conforti said. “I am not aware of anything you’re telling me. You have my assurance we’ll take care of it.”
Morote’s restaurant is one of three, along with Cuzco Peru Restaurant, located at 98-102 Queens Blvd. in Rego Park, and Forest Hills Station House, at 106-11 71 Ave. in Forest Hills, that had applied to the state Liquor Authority for new licenses. All three were approved by the community board.
In addition, 11 other food establishments in the area applied for renewals of their liquor licenses, and all were approved by the board.
Chairman Joseph Hennessy announced that the corner of Ascan and Metropolitan avenues was recently renamed Thomas X. Winberry Way, to commemorate the life of the 20-year veteran of the NYPD who was hailed as a hero for saving the life of a swimmer who was drowning.
Hennessy also mentioned that some 40 bicycle racks, unrelated to the city’s new bike rental project, will be installed in the area, with specific locations yet to be determined. Each rack, he said, would hold one or two bicycles.
He appeared apprehensive about the planned construction of bioswales in the area, saying, “We’ll wait and see how it works.” He questioned who would ultimately be responsible for the maintenance of the “rainscaping” areas, which are intended to help control the flow of water and prevent flooding.
Also unclear is where the bioswales will be located and what criteria will be used to determine the locations.
Hennessy was also unsure whether scanners or mechanical machines would be used in the upcoming September primary elections, saying the state has yet to make the determination.
“I don’t know what the end results will be yet,” he said.
District Manager Frank Gulluscio indicated that a section of Rego Park has met the criteria for a slow zone, a designation which would reduce the speed limit in the area and add safety measures in an effort to change driver behavior. Gulluscio called the designation “a good thing.”
He also said that the results of a two-year study concerning traffic congestion along Woodhaven Boulevard will be announced shortly. A public forum, conducted by the Department of Transportation, is scheduled to take place shortly, he said.
Representing the Department of Health, community relations specialist Simone Martin made a brief presentation on upcoming plans to spray the area against the West Nile Virus.
“We always notify the public in advance,” she said. “We shoot for at least 48 hours in advance notice.”
When questioned as to the dangers involved, she said, “The benefits outweigh the risks.”
Based on a report by the Planning & Zoning Committee, the board passed a motion to grant a special permit to allow the legalization of a physical culture establishment, the Title Boxing Club, on the ground floor of a building located at 69-40 Austin St.
The board agreed that further investigation was needed regarding a proposal involving traffic issues at the intersection of Metropolitan and 71 avenues. Hennessy suggested the DOT should make a presentation to clarify how changes would affect parking and other situations in the area.
The next meeting of the board will take place in September at a date to be determined. Elections for officers are scheduled to take place at that meeting.