Issuess discussed at this month's Community Board 5 meeting included traffic concerns on Grand Avenue, local roads projects and the board’s capital budget.
Grand Ave Traffic Concerns
Tony Nunziato, who is challenging Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D-Maspeth) in next month’s elections, spoke out against the city’s plan to combine two traffic triangles in Maspeth into a single, larger green space.
While Nunziato said he supports the park project in general, he says it doesn’t make sense to essentially eliminate a lane of Grand Avenue without first implementing the Maspeth Truck Bypass plan, referring to the stalled effort to prevent trucks from cutting through the heart of the neighborhood’s shopping district on their way to the expressway.
According to Nunziato, DOT crews have been prepping the area where Maspeth, Grand and Flushing avenues meet, meaning the project will likely move forward in the coming weeks. “Here we are at holiday time, with the economy in the dumpster, we need all the parking we can get, and they’re doing this,” he said. “The idea of a park is wonderful, and will bring this back to a walking community, but only if you take the trucks off the avenue first.”
Under the DOT’s project, the two existing traffic islands at that intersection will be combined into one larger space. To do so, a lane of Maspeth Avenue between Grand and Flushing avenues must be eliminated.
Capital Project Budget Vote
Board members voted on the capital and expense budgets for fiscal year 2010. The proposed projects are ranked and submitted to the city to help determine which initiatives move forward and receive funding.
The following list was approved by the board, with three members voting against it:
• Redesign and reconstruct sewer system in portions of areas having worst flooding
• Study of sewer system in CB 5 and Queens considering flooding problems and anticipated future growth
• Reconstruct Cooper Avenue underpass and construct a new pedestrian crosswalk
• Provide new catch basins and reconstruct deteriorated catch basins
• Reconstruction of Grover Cleveland Park, phase two
• Renovate deteriorated schools and construct new school space where needed.
• Rehabilitate Glendale library branch
• Reconstruct ball fields, jogging path and add lights at Francis J. Principe Park
• Reconstruct south Middle Village streets
• Provide traffic improvements and rehabilitation at Fresh Pond Road
• Rehabilitate Ridgewood branch library, phase two
• Improve pedestrian and vehicle safety at Grand Avenue and 69th Street
• Reconstruct Dry Harbor playground, phase two.
• Provide new street tree plantings
• Establish a community/cultural/recreation center in Maspeth
• Flushing Avenue and Grand Avenue sewer projects
• Improve Myrtle Avenue commercial strip from Fresh Pond Road to 80th Street
• Rehabilitate Ridgewood Reservoir and portions of adjacent Highland Park
•Provide funding for historic restoration of St. Saviour’s church
•Reconstruct and widen sidewalk along the 80th Street bridge over the LIRR tracks
•Build a 104th Precinct parking facility
•Reconstruct 75th Street from Eliot Avenue to Juniper Boulevard North
•Provide lighting and restore curbing along Fred Haller’s Union Turnpike mall from Myrtle Avenue to Woodhaven Boulevard
•Improve Myrtle/Wyckoff transit hub, including painting the M Train station
•Rehabilitate interior of 104th Precinct stationhouse
• Extend roadway widening along Metropolitan Avenue from Aubrey Avenue to Woodhaven Boulevard
• Rehabilitate Evergreen Park playground
• Reconstruct streets that are along bus routes
• Reconstruct DeKalb Avenue, Halsey Street and Jefferson Street train stations
• Reconstruct Prokop Square at Fresh Pond Road and Cypress Hills Street
The board voted to approve the list with the exception of three members: Robert Holden, Lorraine Sciulli and Steve Fielder. Holden later said that he wanted the reconstruction of St. Saviour’s church to be included in the top ten.
“We [the Juniper Park Civic Association] fought so hard to save St. Saviour’s that all we ask is the board put it in the top ten so this can become a reality,” said Holden, who is also president of the JPCA. “The board did nothing to save the church and now they can’t even support the effort by putting it in the top ten.”
He also criticized the board’s practice of including items that have already been funded. “The board has a long history of including projects in their capital list that have already been funded,” said Holden. “Didn’t we listen to a design presentation for phase two reconstruction of Grover Cleveland Park that evening? In order for design to start, the project must be funded, yet the board has Grover Cleveland as number five.”
Road Projects Updates
Board District Manager Gary Giordano provided an update on local road improvement projects.
Maspeth Avenue has been completed from 61st Street to Maurice Avenue, which he called a “big get for use” since that project had been refused several times previously. Forest Avenue between Metropolitan and Myrtle avenues has been completed, but a portion needs to be redone due to a batch of bad asphalt, said Giordano. In addition, Myrtle Avenue from Fresh Pond Road to Woodhaven Boulevard is complete, as is Central Avenue.
Next year, the board will focus on roads in Middle Village, including Juniper Boulevard North and South. “They are tentatively on the list for next year,” said Giordano.
VFW Liquor License Application
Giordano reported that the Haspel Staab VFW post in Middle Village has now filed an application with the state Liquor Authority to expand the use of its liquor license to apply to the building’s side yard.
The request had received backlash from some residents, who objected to allowing the post members to drink outside, especially during parties the neighbors say are noisy. The issue was discussed at the board’s land use committee meeting earlier this month, but post Commander Michael Brown was unable to attend that session due to the death of his father.
While the application is now in the hands of the state, Giordano expressed hope that a compromise between the members and neighbors can be worked out, “more than just whether to use it or not use it,” he said. However, the board will inform the state that it received “some objections” to expansion of the license.