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Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together COMET COMET NEWSLETTER
Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together
Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together
COMET
COMET
NEWSLETTER / FALL 2019
NEWSLETTER / FALL 2019
COMET COMET NEWSLETTER / FALL 2019 NEWSLETTER / FALL 2019 The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade 1-888-692-7233
COMET COMET NEWSLETTER / FALL 2019 NEWSLETTER / FALL 2019 The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade 1-888-692-7233

The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade

2019 NEWSLETTER / FALL 2019 The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade 1-888-692-7233 or1-888-NY-SAFE You can attach photos
2019 NEWSLETTER / FALL 2019 The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade 1-888-692-7233 or1-888-NY-SAFE You can attach photos
1-888-692-7233 or1-888-NY-SAFE You can attach photos or send information.
1-888-692-7233 or1-888-NY-SAFE
You can attach photos or send information.

Upper Left: First Presbyterian Church of Newtown from Queens Boulevard, Elmhurst Upper Right: Victorious America Memorial, 65th Place & Laurel Hill Boulevard, Woodside Lower Left: Maspeth Memorial Plaza & Maspeth Federal Savings Bank on 69th & Grand Avenue, Maspeth

Lower Right: Grand Slope Park from Grand & Kneeland Avenues, Elmhurst

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The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade

The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade We had a picture-perfect day for the Maspeth Memorial Day Parade
The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade We had a picture-perfect day for the Maspeth Memorial Day Parade

We had a picture-perfect day for the Maspeth Memorial Day Parade this year, the sun was shining, and the turnout was great. We want to thank the United Veterans & Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth for their hard work and dedication in making this parade a success. We also thank the many organizations that took part in the march.

The Third Annual Reading of The Declaration of Independence

We would like to thank Assemblyman Brian Barnwell for hosting the third annual reading of The Declaration of Independence at Maspeth Memorial Square. The event drew a sizeable crowd and considering the hot weather and the fact that the event is held on the most popular vacation week of the year, the turnout was downright impressive. More important than the crowd size is that the event is specifically organized to pay tribute to the founding document of our great nation. We would also like to thank the military veterans and the ROTC cadets who attended, performed, and spoke at the event. It’s always heartening to see members of the community reading excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. More than a few of those reading the excerpts were brand new American citizens who were not born in the United States but obviously happy to be here.

born in the United States but obviously happy to be here. The Grand Avenue Street Fair

The Grand Avenue Street Fair

but obviously happy to be here. The Grand Avenue Street Fair We had beautiful weather on

We had beautiful weather on June 9th for the Grand Avenue Street Fair in Maspeth where everybody had a great time. We would like to thank The Maspeth Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club and Kiwanis Club for organizing and hosting the event.

Maspeth Federal Savings Bank Concerts

hosting the event. Maspeth Federal Savings Bank Concerts Maspeth Federal held a series of concerts for
hosting the event. Maspeth Federal Savings Bank Concerts Maspeth Federal held a series of concerts for
hosting the event. Maspeth Federal Savings Bank Concerts Maspeth Federal held a series of concerts for
hosting the event. Maspeth Federal Savings Bank Concerts Maspeth Federal held a series of concerts for

Maspeth Federal held a series of concerts for adults as well as movie nights for the kids. The Duprees drew a large crowd and some folks even braved the stormy weather to see the Elton John Concert. We thank the bank for helping to make our community a great place to live!

Update on The Holiday Inn Express

a great place to live! Update on The Holiday Inn Express As most of us know,

As most of us know, The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has been renting rooms at The Holiday Inn Express for homeless men since late 2016. The DHS has also contracted Acacia Network to manage the homeless residents and provide security. This situation prompted the property owner (KCM Realty Company) to sue the hotel owner (New Ram Realty/Harshad Patel) for violating the terms of the lease. The lease states that the hotel is for commercial use only and cannot be used as a residential property. Last May, the New York Supreme Court ruled against New Ram Realty stating that the terms of the lease were indeed violated. Moreover, the court also ruled that New Rahm Realty was in violation of the NYC Zoning Code.

The Holiday Inn Express, located at 59-40 55th Road, is in a manufacturing zone. Hotels are permitted to operate in manufacturing zones but the guests can only reside in the hotels for short-stays which is defined as less than thirty days. The DHS residents at this hotel stay for an average of 195 days per individual in clear violation of both the lease agreement and the NYC Zoning Code. The court has ordered that the plaintiff KCM Realty is entitled to exercise its remedies under the lease and that the motion for summary judgment on the third cause of action is granted on the issue of liability.

In summary, this means that New Ram Realty cannot enter into a contract with DHS to establish a permanent homeless shelter on this property because such a contract would be in violation of the lease agreement with KCM Realty and the NYC Zoning Code. Since this was a private sector business dispute, we have no way of knowing how KCM Realty will exercise its remedies for New Ram Realty’s contract violation.

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Homeless Concerns on LIE Overpass at Mazeau Street

Homeless Concerns on LIE Overpass at Mazeau Street In early June, we received calls from nearby

In early June, we received

calls from nearby residents

alerting us to 55th the Avenue fact that

a homeless couple with

a pit bull set up a small

encampment on one of the levels leading up to the pedestrian overpass near Mazeau Street. We were told the dog became extremely aggressive when folks tried to walk across the bridge, most likely because he was trying to protect his owners.

Captain Perry, Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct, spoke to the couple to see if they would be willing to move to another location since it was actively used by pedestrians. They agreed. Several days later we heard the pit bull was adopted by a neighbor. This came as great news because there was also a concern the dog wasn’t getting enough water during the hot weather. The couple soon moved back to the footbridge without the dog.

Our NCO Officers Shoy and Nisbett visited the couple in mid-July with an organization called Breaking Ground. This organization helps people get shelter and assists them in getting back on their feet.

In the meantime, we reached out to the 104th Precinct and the offices of Assemblyman Barnwell and Councilman Holden to ask for assistance in cleaning up the trash that was accumulating on the bridge as well as feces on the overpass. As we send this newsletter to be printed, nearby residents haven’t seen the couple in a while.

On August 26th, Assemblyman Barnwell's office stated, "I'm happy to inform you that the individuals that were living on the Mazeau Street overpass have accepted help from DHS (Department of Homeless Services) and have left the area. The entire site has been cleaned by the NYS DOT.

Proposing a Green Street on 85th Street Adjacent to the LIRR

In past issues of our COMET newsletter, we discussed actions taken by the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) that have been detrimental to the quality of life for Elmhurst residents living near the tracks. Elmhurst resident Ed Misiura has been at the forefront of this issue since it began in 2017. Ed has suggested utilizing the NYC Greenstreet Program to create a visually pleasing fence and sidewalk along this stretch of 85th

pleasing fence and sidewalk along this stretch of 85th Street. This would essentially mean replacing the
pleasing fence and sidewalk along this stretch of 85th Street. This would essentially mean replacing the

Street. This would essentially mean replacing the existing fence with a taller, green barred fence. There are two reasons to replace the existing fence. The first reason being that the existing barrier it is not very attractive; it looks more like a wall than a fence and has no aesthetic charm whatsoever. Secondly, because the existing fence looks like a blank wall on fairly remote stretch of road it’s an irresistible canvas for graffiti vandals. Ed has been

painting over graffiti on this fence since it’s been built and, if not for his effort, we’d be seeing a fence covered with graffiti. A taller barred fence with space between the bars would not only be more visually pleasing

it would deny a canvas for graffiti vandals. We should also propose

installing some sort of Green Street improvement at the dead end on 55th Avenue near the foot bridge. This area could easily be transformed into an idyllic section of the community that people would enjoy walking

through. Improved lighting and perhaps cameras would deter crime and vandalism in the area.

The Long Island Railroad cut down most of the trees on its property along 85th Street from 57th Avenue to 55th Avenue back in 2017. While we acknowledge the railroad’s right to remove trees on its property, we also believe it should bear responsibility for the impact these actions have had on nearby residents. The trees and shrubs that existed acted as a sound barrier to the noise of the passing trains. In addition to

removing the vegetation, the railroad crews sprayed a toxic weed killer throughout the area that some residents believe is harmful to pets and people with health issues. Finally, after the trees were removed the railroad constructed the fence that stands there now, a drab, spartan

a barrier that attracts graffiti and may even encroach on city property.

Ed has been documenting each action and has been in contact with the office of Councilman Dromm, the NYC Department of Transportation and COMET. According to Mr. Misiura, the new fence was built further away from the railroad tracks than the original fence and it raises the question if it was indeed built beyond the LIRR property line. There is a gate allowing access to the railroad tracks on 85th Street where the LIRR sloppily scrawled “No Parking” on the curb in front of a semi curb-cut. The curb-cut is taking away residential parking and, as far as we know, no permit has been issued for it. The "No Parking" sign painted on the sidewalk was removed after Councilman Dromm visited the site last year but has been painted back since then.

At this point we really don’t know if the LIRR is encroaching on city property but it’s unlikely the fence will be moved closer to the tracks because moving the fence would leave the utility towers supporting high voltage cables open to the public.

to the tracks because moving the fence would leave the utility towers supporting high voltage cables
to the tracks because moving the fence would leave the utility towers supporting high voltage cables

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There is also the question as to whether or not the LIRR can use “eminent domain” in the interest of public safety, even if they are encroaching on city property.

safety, even if they are encroaching on city property. The “No Parking” spray painted on the

The “No Parking” spray painted on the curb near the gate is another matter. It isn’t clear as to whether the LIRR has aquired a permit to prevent parking in front of the gate but Councilman Dromm’s office is following up. We will continue to investigate and report on these issues as facts come to light.

Proposal to Repair the Steps on the 55th Avenue Footbridge

The 55th Avenue footbridge over the Long Island Railroad could use a makeover. The steps are old, have uneven step heights and need to be replaced. Councilman Dromm and Senator Stavisky met with COMET on site several years ago and we focused on the immediate concerns that needed to be addressed. Instead of replacing the entire bridge at a huge cost, we asked them to consider replacing the steps and banisters.

Councilman Dromm’s office recently reached out to NYC Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) and was told that DOT’s Bridges Unit did conduct repairs to a portion of the bridge which were flagged. The flagged repairs included concrete work, repairing a hole in the fence and repainting of the railings. The agency has reached out to their Bridge Unit to see when this location is scheduled to have the graffiti addressed. They have also requested an update on when this bridge is projected to be fully reconstructed.

on when this bridge is projected to be fully reconstructed. As long as we’re looking to

As long as we’re looking to improve this section of Elmhurst we may as well propose setting up a Greenstreet fence and trees at the dead end of 55th Avenue leading to the footbridge from Haspel Street. This dead-end street and 85th Street on the other side of the bridge could look so much better if the Greenstreet program were implemented. Unfortunately, illegal dumping has been a problem in this area for decades. The area is remote so it’s an attractive dumping site. This needs to be factored into any improvement

site. This needs to be factored into any improvement plans going forward. We’ll keep you updated

plans going forward. We’ll keep you updated on our progress. We will continue to work with Councilman Dromm regarding these suggestions.

Elmhurst’s Grand Slope Park Needs Repairs

When you look at the photo, you’ll immediately recognize the property but we’re curious as to how many folks knew this is actually a park with a name. To be honest, we didn’t know it had a name either. This park was brought to our attention by COMET member Paul Hogan who lived in Elmhurst growing up and who still likes to walk through Elmhurst on his way home.

who still likes to walk through Elmhurst on his way home. Paul noticed a couple of

Paul noticed a couple of small repairs that could possibly be done and said, “The concrete stairs that connect Grand Avenue to Kneeland Avenue at Grand Slope Park need to be repaired. These steps have always been a wonderful aspect of our community. Not only do they provide access from Grand Avenue to Kneeland Avenue and the valley, they also add character to the neighborhood giving it a “small town” feel. Unfortunately, the concrete steps are cracked and the some of the hand rail bases are no longer cemented into the ground”. Paul reached out to Qibin Ye at Councilman Dromm’s office and she promptly submitted a repair request to NYC Parks Department. They’ll update us as soon as they receive a response. We’re hoping the steps can be repaired at some point over the next year.

update us as soon as they receive a response. We’re hoping the steps can be repaired
update us as soon as they receive a response. We’re hoping the steps can be repaired

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The Saga of the "Mystery Boulder" Continiues

The Saga of the "Mystery Boulder" Continiues It’s debatable how long this boulder has been sitting

It’s debatable how long this boulder has been sitting on 84th Street across from St. Adalbert but we all agree it needs to go. Councilman Dromm’s office and COMET has reached out to NYC DOT several times over the past year but no action has been taken. We’ll continue to follow up.

We’d love to hear any ideas on how to move it to a more suitable location!!

Queens Boulevard were forced to close because the new bike lanes were placed where customers would park their cars to shop. Another factor that must be considered is that very few people travel by bicycle in the winter months or in stormy weather at any time of the year. So from this perspective the designated bike lanes benefit a minority of the city’s population for six months per year while inconveniencing a majority of non-cycling New Yorkers all year.

New York has always been a densely populated city and traffic congestion has been an ongoing issue for its elected officials. In an effort to reduce congestion city planners are trying to discourage car ownership and reduce vehicular traffic by creating safe lanes for cyclists and making more bicycles available to the public. The theory is these measures will encourage more people to choose travelling via bicycle than by car or public transportation. We’ll see if this theory plays out. Full disclosure:

the author of this article lives in the Maspeth area and is both a cyclist and a motorist.

$30M in Funding for PS9

New Bike Lanes on Grand Avenue

You may have noticed that there are now bike lanes on Grand Avenue from Elmhurst to Maspeth. While many see protected bike lanes as a positive development, others see this as an unnecessary inconvenience. There are legitimate arguments on both sides of the lane. On certain thoroughfares bike lanes are great because they clearly indicate which lanes are designated for cyclists and motorists. Basically, wide streets that can easily accommodate bikers and motorists are the best roadways for designated bike lanes. For example, the bike lanes on 69th Street from the Queens Midtown Expressway to Metropolitan Avenue work well for both motorists and cyclists whereas the bike lanes on 69th Street crossing Grand Avenue and the Long Island Expressway may as well not exist. Busy intersections and areas with heavy vehicular traffic are not safe areas for cyclists with or without the bike lanes. Designated bike lanes are a benefit to both cyclists and motorists if done sensibly. The bike lanes on Grand Avenue will probably be beneficial in some areas such as in Elmhurst but in the busier sections of Maspeth they’ll probably have no impact at all.

of Maspeth they’ll probably have no impact at all. We were pleased to hear that PS

We were pleased to hear that PS 9, which is a school for 100 children with severe disabilities, will see improvements. Funding in the amount of $14 million dollars was allocated for restoring the outside of the building with small repairs being done inside. Thanks to Councilman Holden calling attention to much-needed interior work, another $16 million will be allocated to install an elevator, allow for wheelchair accessibility and improvements to the gymnasium.

wheelchair accessibility and improvements to the gymnasium. The down side of bike lanes is that they

The down side of bike lanes is that they often disproportionately impact cyclists and non-cyclists. New York City has never been safe for cyclists and probably never will be. For this reason, many city residents will not ride a bicycle here, and understandably so. There are also many city residents that cannot ride bicycles because they aren’t physically fit enough or don’t know how. So, since most New Yorkers do not ride bicycles in the city it could be argued that more people are negatively impacted by bike lanes than benefit from them. Several businesses on

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Utility Pole Concerns

Utility Pole Concerns For the past couple of years, we have been expressing concern about the
Utility Pole Concerns For the past couple of years, we have been expressing concern about the

For the past couple of years, we have been expressing concern about the leaning utility poles throughout our neighborhoods. We have no doubt that in a severe storm some poles will fall taking out electric, cable and damaging property. We have no definitive answer as to who owns them or who is responsible for maintaining them. The pole on 64th Street at Flushing Avenue was tilted and now it looks like it’s cracking. Some of the utility poles along Calamus Avenue are not only leaning, but still haven’t been taken off the private property of residents.

Another Street Cave-in

the private property of residents. Another Street Cave-in Block Captain Howard Moskowitz reported a street cave-n

Block Captain Howard Moskowitz reported a street cave-n on Ireland Street during the summer. Councilman Dromm’s office is following up with the Department of Environmental Protection to determine what caused the cave-in and take appropriate action.

Don’t Kill the Snakes!

The DeKay’s brown snake has been spotted in Elmhurst. They are not poisonous and are good for the environment. They can be found in diverse habitats, including forests, wetlands and even urban areas. They spend much of their time under logs, rocks, leaves and other material. They feed mostly on slugs, snails and earthworms. Description: A small, keel-scaled snake (9.0 to 13.0 inches in length) with variable coloration.

(9.0 to 13.0 inches in length) with variable coloration. Electronics Recycling A Message From 104th Precinct

Electronics Recycling

A Message From 104th Precinct NCO Sector C

My name is PO Ebonie Nisbett and I work with PO Deighton Shoy. We are Neighborhood Coordination Officers assigned to Maspeth and have been working in the community as neighborhood officers for the past 10 months. During our time on patrol we have been getting to know the different neighborhood concerns and realized there was a need for a closer relationship with the community and the 104th Precinct in order to work as a team to address problems.

Deighton and I will continue to take the initiative to identify problems by reaching out to residents, business owners and Community Partners. Our mission is to continue to connect, protect, reduce crime, address quality of life concerns and promote trust within the neighborhood of Maspeth. Please feel free to reach out to us with any concerns.

104th Precinct Neighborhood Officers

PO Ebonie Nisbett - Ebonie.nisbett@nypd.org and

PO Deighton Shoy - Deighton.shoy@nypd.org

108th Precinct Neighborhood Officers

PO Richard Kaplan - Richard.kaplan@nypd.org and

PO Juan Moscosco - juan.moscosco@nypd.org

110th Precinct Neighborhood Officers

PO Donald Lee - Donald.lee@nypd.org and

PO Kelsey Cunningham - Kelsey.cunningham@nypd.org

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Report Plane Noise

WebTrak website http://www.panynj.gov/airports/webtrak.html every Friday. WebTrak system allows the public to track flights and view noise readings at noise monitoring sites. The same site can be used to file noise complaints. Noise complaints can also be filed via their toll-free phone number (1-800-225-1071). All noise complaints received are logged in to a database and monthly statistical reports are prepared and shared with the FAA and other stakeholders.

C.O.M.E.T. Meetings Check our website at www.cometcivic.com Newsletter Committee Mike Fordunski, Richie Polgar,
C.O.M.E.T. Meetings
Check our website at www.cometcivic.com
Newsletter Committee
Mike Fordunski, Richie Polgar, Christina Wilkinson, Paul Hogan, Lucille Winsko, Geraldine Walsh, Howard Moskowitz, Roe Daraio,
Maspeth Press
Special Thank You
This newsletter is made possible by funding from Council Members Daniel Dromm, Jimmy Van Bramer & Robert Holden through
the Department of Youth & Community Development
Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together COMET We need your support to continue our efforts
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NEWSLETTER / FALL 2019
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COMET Upcoming Events - Mark Your Calendar September 7th, 11:00 AM, 9/11 Memorial Ceremony, 69th/Grand
COMET
Upcoming Events - Mark Your Calendar
September 7th, 11:00 AM, 9/11 Memorial Ceremony, 69th/Grand
September 15th, 11:00 am-4:00 PM, Smile on Maspeth Day Carnival
September 28th, 1:00-4:00 PM, Maspeth Federal parking lot VIN Etch, register
cell phones/bikes, etc.; recycle, shred, pet adoption & pumpkin patch for the kids.
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