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Queens Chronicle

McHugh co-naming push comes to CB 7

Vallone supports campaign; board elects Alison Tan fourth vice chair

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Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2019 10:30 am

Community Board 7 member Kevin Shields has gathered thousands of signatures in recent months in support of getting a street co-naming for World War II hero John McHugh.

The veteran, who lives in Whitestone, fought the Nazis on D-Day and in other historic battles like those of the Bulge and Crucifix Hill. Among his myriad decorations are the Silver Star, the third-highest one given to soldiers for bravery in combat.

At Monday’s CB 7 meeting, Shields, who is McHugh’s first cousin once removed, discussed his efforts with his colleagues on the panel. He repeatedly praised the Queens Chronicle and this writer for stories about his effort and thanked the paper for its editorial endorsing the co-naming proposal, which he read aloud.

“If Rivera can get the honor for slinging fastballs to catchers, surely McHugh should get it for slinging lead at Nazis,” Shields read, the piece referencing a co-naming for famed Yankee pitcher Mariano Rivera. “Let this hero see a street sign with his name on it before he’s gone.”

Shields wants the block that McHugh, lives on, 156th Street between Cryders Lane and 14th Avenue, co-named in his honor. His push for the honor continues to gain momentum, with St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church — where the veteran worships — dedicating space about Shields’ petition in its bulletin.

And with McHugh now 94 years old and suffering from vision and hearing problems, Shields would like his relative to be alive to see the street co-named.

He says an exception must be made to the City Council rule dictating that co-naming honorees must be deceased. At least one has been made before, when a Bronx block was co-named Rivera Avenue to honor the Yankees legend in 2013.

Shields requested that the board’s Transportation Committee hold a hearing on the co-naming request.

CB 7 Chairman Gene Kelty said he supports the co-naming but said the proposal would have to be logged in with the board office before it would go to committee.

He also explained that he wouldn’t allow the proposal to go to committee unless Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), who represents the area, agreed to the co-naming, because his support would be needed to make it a reality.

That won’t be a problem, though.

Lionel Morales, a spokesman for the lawmaker, told the Chronicle in a Tuesday email that Vallone “will advocate to the Speaker that an exception be made for this co-naming. This Whitestone hero deserves to be forever remembered.”

Also at Monday’s meeting, Kelty, First Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian and Second Vice Chairman Warren Schreiber were re-elected in uncontested races.

Third Vice Chairman Frank Macchio was challenged by Barbara McHugh, who stepped down in November as fourth vice chairwoman, but won with 36 votes to her seven.

Alison Tan, a CB 7 member who unsuccessfully challenged Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) in a 2017 Democratic primary, won the position vacated by McHugh. She got 22 votes, with Josh Sussman coming in second place with 12 and Kim Ohanian in third with seven.

Each of the three fourth vice chair candidates briefly went to the podium to make their case to the board. Tan, who is married to and raising three daughters with Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), said she wanted to use the position to “thoroughly investigate what the root causes of the lack of sanitation in our neighborhoods are” and address how the Department of Sanitation allocates resources in the area.

Schreiber, who aside from being CB 7’s second vice chairman is its Aviation Committee chairman, gave the board some aircraft noise-related updates.

He brought up how the Federal Aviation Administration recently admitted to overusing the TNNIS climb, an unpopular and extremely noisy flight path that goes over northeast Queens neighborhoods, and agreed to only use it when necessary.

“I heave heard some people who have already told me that they have heard a difference,” he said, adding that the FAA’s decision was a result of the work of the New York Community Aviation Roundtable, which he co-chairs.

Additionally, Schreiber told the board that the noise from the North Shore Helicopter Route, which is irritating to many who live in Whitestone and Bay Terrace, will be cut in half thanks to a new pilot program. Under it, helicopters heading back to New York City from Long Island will be flying over water instead of northeast Queens communities.

The Aviation Committee chairman also said he expects the FAA to reach out to CB 7 and other community boards for input on the environmental impact statement it will do for the planned AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport.

Flushing resident Rob Reynolds told the board about his online petition to get a pedestrian plaza created on Roosevelt Avenue between Main and Union streets.

“This has been done in other places — Times Square, particularly, as well as other places around the city, other places around the state, other places around the country and the world,” he said.

Reynolds witnessed a Jan. 2 car crash on the block that critically injured a 59-year-old woman. He and others at the scene tried to lift the car off her before emergency responders arrived.

UPDATE

At the insistence of Barbara McHugh, this story has been updated to specify that she stepped down as fourth vice chairwoman of Community Board 7 in November 2018.

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