By Tamara Best
At the Citizens for a Better Ridgewood meeting Tuesday, the state budget, voting, crime in the 104th Precinct and issues at local parks were among key discussions.
State Senator Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) addressed the audience briefly to discuss the state budget, trains hauling garbage through the area and the upcoming election.
“I want to go back to Albany to finish off what we should have before July 4,” he said, adding that he continues to express frustration over this year’s process and hopes to restore money to areas where it has been lost due to budget cuts.
“As the budget gets cut, the District Attorney loses money for prosecutions,” he said in reference to repeat offenders and curbing crime.
Members of the audience also raised concerns about the MTA, the lack of the M train running on the weekend and the possibility of fares being raised. Addabbo said he is hopeful that an independent audit being done of their practices will be complete by the year’s end.
“I’m not convinced that they’re good at math or lose money,” he said, adding that the M line is “critical” to the area and hopes that the MTA will be able to “restore service to the levels we deserve.”
Addabbo also reassured residents that though efforts at trying to pass legislation on a hard covering for the railcars transporting waste was unsuccessful, he plans on pushing for stronger laws again during the next legislative session.
With elections this fall, he also took a minute to remind residents of the new electronic voting machines and urged them to have patience.
“This new year starts a new era in voting,” he said. “Be prepared for longer lines and to spend a little more time voting this year. We don’t want people to go home, if you can stand a little frustration it is worth your time.” When asked why he voted against gay marriage, he said that the majority of correspondence from constituents asked that he not vote in favor of it.
“I see 300,000 people jammed into my seat in the chamber,” he said of the way he votes on issues, adding that “accessibility and conversation is important to the progress we need to make.”
Community Affairs Officer Tommy Bell of the 104th Precinct provided an update on crime for the year. Crime is up so far, with 990 incidents so far this year as opposed to 928 at the same time last year. Felony assaults have spiked from 96 last year to 128 for the year to date. With auto theft plaguing the community, Bell said the precinct is remaining proactive and vigilant, employing the latest technology to help them combat this type of crime in the area.
Bell also encouraged residents to try and deter burglars from breaking into their home by securing air conditioning units, having a crime prevention officer visit the home to offer a free assessment and by closing their windows, even if they are only leaving their home briefly. Residents who need help removing graffiti can contact GCop, the 104’s Civilian Observation Patrol, at (718) 497-1500.
With recently renovated Grover Cleveland Park now open once again for area residents to enjoy, Steve Fiedler, chairman of Community Board 5’s Parks Committee, said there have been no major problems thus far. However, the lack of goalposts for the soccer fields, exits near gardens and double parking are issues that need to be addressed to improve the park’s condition.
Fiedler also spoke briefly about the state of the Ridgewood Reservoir, noting that the state Department of Environment Conservation is considering designating the area a wetland. The department’s decision would complicate the city’s current plan, prohibiting the beginning of phase one until a decision is made.
“We don’t want the Parks Department to build phase one the way they have it designed,” he said, adding that the planned removal of 160 trees is “unacceptable.”
Fiedler told the audience that several local high schools and colleges have expressed interest in using the potential wetland for educational purposes, furthering the need for it to be preserved. Fiedler said three contractors have entered their name to be considered for the project.