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Community Board 10 got its first briefing last Thursday on Gov. Cuomo’s plan to reconstruct Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach to create a better flood barrier and a more user-friendly greenspace, and members had a laundry list of questions for representatives from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for what it would mean on the quality of life in the neighborhood.
The parkland, which frames the western and southern parts of the “new side” of Howard Beach, is underutilized, unkempt and inadequate as flood protection, according to the DEC and reconstruction work, which will be funded by Sandy relief money, would reconstruct it to allow for better flood protection and make it a more usable space for parkgoers.
The U.S. Senate passed legislation last Thursday that would relieve the flood rate hikes mandated by a 2012 law aimed at stabilizing the finances of the National Flood Insurance Program.
By a vote of 67-32, the Senate approved the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which if made into law would delay the increases in the flood insurance rates mandate under the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012, until the Federal Emergency Management Agency does an affordability study to determine how the rate hikes would affect homeowners in food zones. It also would require FEMA to certify that its flood maps are accurate and ensure local levees and other flood control structures are taken into account in the mapping process.
When the city came to residents in the Centreville section of Ozone Park and proposed an overhaul of the neighborhood’s sewer lines, Ed Koch was in his first term as mayor, Blondie was topping the charts and the neighborhood’s current representative on the New York City Council was not even born yet.
More than three decades later, the project, referred to locally as “the Albert Road project” or its official designation “HWQ411B,” is still in limbo, even after the city promised work was imminent. Residents and some civic leaders see HWQ411B — the random set of characters uttered as often at civic meetings as Jean Valjean’s prison number in the first act of the musical “Les Miserables” — as nothing more than a running joke played on them.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder awarded Lindenwood’s Tuscany Deli the “Small Business of the Month” award for January.
“We’re honored to have been chosen,” Tuscany Deli co-owner John Gurino, left, seen here accepting a citation from Goldfeder on Jan. 9, wrote on the deli’s Facebook page. “We would like to thank our wonderful community, you inspire us each day. Without you we would be nothing and, we thank you all for your constant love and support.”
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) has announced details for the first round of this year’s Participatory Budgeting Neighborhood Assemblies in the Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Richmond Hill sections of the district, bringing the process in which members of the public give input on where city taxpayer money should go into the neighborhoods, much of which were added to the district in last year’s redistricting.
The forums will give residents the opportunity to decide how $1 million in capital funds can be best spent on projects in those communities. Input from the assemblies will ultimately be used to create a list of several capital projects to be voted on by Community Board 9 residents residing in Ulrich’s district.
In a city the size of New York, politics and crime are often the biggest newsmakers, as was the case in 2013.
There was no shortage of political headlines this past year, an election year at that. Queens elected a new borough president while Forest Hills and Rego Park opted to bring back Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) for another term. Area politicians made their collective voices heard throughout the year, filling the Chronicle’s pages for months.
The ongoing recovery from 2012’s Hurricane Sandy dominated life in South Queens for most of 2013 and was a factor in many other big stories, from the future of the abandoned Rockaway Beach LIRR line to the election battle between Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and his Democratic opponent Lew Simon.
But South Queens also dealt with a wide array of other issues in 2013, from crime at Forest Park to internal strife on Community Board 9.
Lindenwood resident Sheila Shale, holding plaque, was presented with the Woman of the Year Award by members of the Lindenwood Alliance.
Howard Beach residents packed the 106th Precinct Community Council meeting in Ozone Park on Dec. 11 demanding more police in response to two recent gunpoint carjackings and a spike in robberies.
Police said that on Nov. 26 at 11 p.m. on 91st Street and 159th Avenue, one block west of Cross Bay Boulevard, a gunman carjacked a man and stole his white Porsche Cayenne. Two weeks earlier another driver was carjacked a block away.
The Lindenwood Alliance will join with the Howard Beach Civic Association on Jan. 1, 2014 with a change of the group’s name to the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association, Joann Ariola, president of the Alliance, informed residents who attended Monday’s meeting of the Alliance.
Ariola also said meetings will now be held at 7:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of the month and the new meeting place will be in the cafeteria of St. Helen School in Howard Beach.
Much of Howard Beach is placed in Zone AE under the new flood maps released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but several blocks on the west side of the neighborhood and higher areas, including Lindenwood, are in the less risky Zone X.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency released Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps for New York City last week that reflect the latest updates to the agency’s redrawing of the coastal flood zones.
The Preliminary FIRMs replace the Preliminary Work Maps that were released in June as an interim product. Those maps, placed much of Howard Beach into a new zone, Zone A, would require residents to have flood insurance and take measures, such as raising their homes, or risk substantially higher flood insurance premiums.
Community Board 10 took up two land use issues last Thursday night, one involving a proposed hotel and another on a planned gym due to open in a new shopping strip.
Revisiting the proposed variance that the board tabled last month for a hotel slated for 149th Avenue and 132nd Street — a site zoned for industrial use — CB 10 Land Use Committee Chairman John Calcagnile said he had met with the hotel’s developers and some of the issues that were brought up at the November meeting had been addressed. Those included moving the hotel’s entrance to face south into the parking lot and a guarantee from the hotel’s owner that it would never become a homeless shelter, as the former Skyway Motel, across the street from the site of the proposed hotel, did several years ago.