The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association addressed several issues, many of them ongoing, that have been affecting the area during its last meeting.
Community Affairs Bureau Officers Jose Severino and Brendan Noonan of the 102nd Precinct cautioned against scammers who continue to prey on the elderly and vulnerable, particularly immigrants, with promises of winning lottery tickets and manufactured threats.
Indicating that one victim was out a whopping $15,000, the officers hoped to spread the word that the schemes frequently involve Green Dot MoneyPak prepaid cards. The officers stressed that utility companies will not, as the bogus threats suggest, shut off customers’ services on weekends, nor will they ask for money on demand.
“Someone found a scam and they’re hurting innocent people,” Severino said.
Residents raised complaints concerning cars that are illegally parked in the area. One case concerns vehicles on the sidewalk at Atlantic Avenue and 89th Street. Another problem focuses on garages on Atlantic Avenue between 87th and 88th streets, where, it was pointed out, cars line up every day for service. Cars up for sale block not only Atlantic Avenue but side streets including 88th and 89th.
“They think they can do whatever they want on Atlantic Avenue,” one disgruntled member of the audience said.
Among several elected officials on hand for the meeting, held at American Legion Post 118 on April 24, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) indicated the top four items that emerged in the first participatory budget in Community Board 9 were as follows: 1. School upgrades; 2. real-time bus clocks; 3. street paving along Woodhaven Boulevard; and 4. upgrades to the Richmond Hill Library.
“It’s an excellent idea and chance for taxpayers to have a say over how you want the city to spend your money,” Ulrich said of the citizens’ vote on capital spending. “For year one, it was a big success.”
Ulrich also discussed Select Bus Service as a way of speeding up bus trips along Woodhaven Boulevard. The plan would include having riders pay at a machine before boarding.
“Keep an open mind,” he suggested. “We have to be open to new ideas” in order to solve what he called a “traffic nightmare” on one of the borough’s most heavily traveled streets.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) addressed the issue of vandalism committed by students from JHS 210, raised by a member of the audience who indicated that he has been trying to get a police presence on 92nd Street because of the “crazy nonsense” going on around the school, particularly at dismissal time.
The homeowner said students break windows, climb trees and jump onto cars, and use spray paint around the neighborhood. He said his home has suffered $4,400 in damages as a result of the raucous behavior.
He indicated that a 12-year-old has been arrested in connection with the crimes, adding, “It really is about time that someone takes a look. These kids have got to be put under control. They have no fear and God forbid you touch them, you’re a dead man.”
Addabbo responded by saying, “Nothing beats the physical presence of a police officer,” acknowledging, “There’s a limited police force. I’m sure the 102 will hear about your situation.”
Ulrich added, “The reality is, the school safety agents cannot patrol blocks from the school.”
Addabbo also updated the gathering on the collapsed building at 78-19 Jamaica Ave. He said the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development has a contract ready to demolish the building, though he expects the owner will fight it with a temporary restraining order.
“As owner, he has certain obligations,” Addabbo said. “We’ve given him ample time to do the right thing and he hasn’t.”
Jeff Kurzon, a candidate for Congress in the 7th District, held by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn, Queens), told the audience that he is running a “single issue” campaign, namely campaign finance reform, which he deems necessary in a political system he believes is compromised by money.
Representatives from the Circle Academy Charter School, which is aiming to open in the fall of 2015 and, ultimately, to serve students in grades K-8 in School District 27, took questions.
School spokesman Michael Estep said it would be located at 85-27 91 St., site of a former church, in its first year, and then move to its permanent location at 75-14 Jamaica Avenue, a former storage facility.
While the school would be in Woodhaven, it expects to serve a population of students reflective of the entire district. It is awaiting state approval.
Admission would be by lottery and by 2019, it would house 506 students. The principal would be Ann Marie Ginsberg, who brings over 25 years experience in education in high-needs school districts, according to the school’s letter of intent.
Community Board 9 member Sherman Kane suggested the need for the block association to arrive at a position in regard to an upcoming proposal to legalize basement apartments, part of Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan. Kane cautioned the association that the move would “increase neighborhood density.”
Miss Woodhaven, Nalicia Ramdyal, was introduced at the meeting and helped select the winner of the 50/50 raffle. Louisa Wohlmaker was the lucky one.