Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn,Queens) came to the May meeting of the Lindenwood Alliance, in the Fairfield Arms Co-op, to meet some of his new constituents.
Jeffries told the audience that he was concerned with resolving any issues that residents had with the Federal Emergency Management Agency regarding Hurricane Sandy.
“That’s just the first step,” he said.
He added that getting resident’s issues with insurance companies resolved was the next step, working with state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) and the city Department of Financial Services to that end.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to get you where you were,” said Jeffries.
Angelica Katz, representing Goldfeder, told the Alliance members that Goldfeder has been endeavoring to get more cops for the 106th Precinct.
“They’ve been doing a phenomenal job with the resources they have, but they need more,” said Katz. “At the end of the day you just need more cops on the street.”
Noting the City Water Board’s increase of water rates last week, Katz said that Goldfeder has reintroduced legislation in the Assembly to cap water rate hikes at 5.6 percent.
“It’s not fair to raise the water rates when employees are not getting (pay) raises,” one resident, who did not give his name, said.
Katz said that Goldfeder was working with the NYC Parks Department to cut down and replace trees damaged by Sandy.
Margaret Finnerty, President of the Richmond Hill South Civic Association, said that with possible full casino gambling being approved in the state she felt that the legal age to gamble should be raised from 18 to 21.
“That’s where the money is but we gotta raise the age,” said Finnerty.
Finnerty also announced that her organization will be honoring Lindenwood Alliance President Joann Ariola for outstanding service to the community on May 30.
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) attended the meeting and discussed some of the pending bills before the Council. He said that he does not support and will vote against the proposed Bill to create the Office of the Inspector General in the NYPD.
“I don’t think that is necessary,” said Ulrich, adding that there is already sufficient oversight of the department.
Ulrich said that he will also vote against a bill to give non-citizens the right to vote in municipal elections.
“If they want to vote, they should become citizens,” he said.
A major topic of discussion at the meeting was the proposed group home on 80th Street.
Dave Shlakman, who lives on 80th Street near where six autistic and developmentally disabled young adults are slated to live in a group home had some questions for representatives of Birch Family Services at Monday night’s meeting.
Birch received the green light for the home, to be located at 137-31 80th Street, earlier this month from Community Board 10.
“What impact do you think a (group) house on a block will have, based on your experience?” Shlakman asked.
“It’s a positive impact, there is no negative impact in terms of community, we fully blend into the neighborhood,” said Nigel Cole, Birch’s deputy director for community services.
Shlakman also asked if the house will be changed from its current condition.
Denis Rosenberg, Birch’s deputy director of facilities management, said that it will look exactly the same on the outside and have only minor changes inside. She added that it will be a much safer facility with the addition of a sprinkler system and a fire alarm.
“Why was this house picked, rather than any other house in the area?” another audience member asked.
Rosenberg said that Birch picks a house just as any prospective homebuyer would.
“We look for the same things that you look for when you buy a house,” said Rosenberg, adding, “a nice neighborhood, a safe neighborhood, [public] transportation for staff and residents of the group home.”
Another resident expressed concern about the house being empty for the next several months.
Rosenberg said the owner regularly checks and maintains the house as does Birch staff.
Lindenwood resident David Postrion asked if it would not have been a better idea if Birch had asked the residents whether or not the community needed the house in the neighborhood before they bought it.
Ariola said that the organization is not obliged to advise the community before they buy the house for a group home. She added that Birch has been very forthcoming to the Alliance. The group home is expected to be ready for occupancy next spring.
It is not the only group home in Lindenwood.
In October 2008 despite the protests of residents of 79th Street, a proposal to place a group home at 153-10 79th Street was unanimously approved by CB 10.
The residence is home to six to eight male residents, age 21 and over, with moderate to mild retardation.