|President’s Message: |
I wish to start this message by offering condolences to the family and friends of longtime New York State Assemblywoman Barbara M. Clark who died at the age of 76. The Assemblywoman represented the 33rd district which stretched into part of Bellerose Manor.
It is the time of year where we start coming outside more and start to spruce up the areas around our homes. For those who walk their dogs, please remember to clean up after your dog and to be respectful of others who may not be comfortable around dogs.
On January 21st my wife and I made a trip to the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College to hear
Melinda Katz deliver her State of the Borough address. She repeated her motto “If it is good for families, it is good for Queens”. Based on that, she reiterated that if there are events that some promoter wants to hold in the parks of Queens, she wants to make sure that it is a good thing for the residents of Queens and their families. Something that is just a money maker for the promoter, does not benefit families who use the parks. Since she became Borough President, Melinda Katz had focused on the protection of parks to benefit the residents who use them. It all makes sense and we should be proud to have her protection for our families and the parks.
In general she had a very upbeat view of the state of the borough. My view of our community is the same— upbeat—I believe we are doing well. I am always glad to get your feedback.
The New Year often brings thoughts of new hope. We continue to hope that our community will flourish but also acknowledge that it will only prosper if we put effort into making this a better community. I hope you get a chance to read through this bulletin. It reflects in many ways the work being done to maintain and improve our community.
I am encouraged by the large crowd that came to our Holiday Party and exhibited such community spirit. We have identified an exciting program of speakers for the Spring Meetings and will share that with you once the speakers are confirmed. In the meantime, I hope we have a better winter than the last one.
Thanks to the resident(s) who planted the flowers on Union Turnpike median. Also, thanks to the Sanitation Department for the clean-up along that same median. It is a joint effort to keep our area beautiful but we are doing pretty well. We are not, however, helped by those that disperse bread crumbs to feed the pigeons and other birds. It is a questionable practice by itself since it attracts birds who make a mess on our sidewalks and streets. The other issue is that it attracts other less desirable animals like rats. We have had numerous rat sightings lately, something we have not seen much of in the past. So I implore people not to spread food out on the ground. It is creating health hazards.
Thanksgiving is such a nice holiday. It is also a needed one. Not because we need another reason to stuff our face, rather because sometimes we just need to remember all the advantages in life we have and how grateful we should be to all those that make our life better.
I would like to thank all the members of the Officers and Board of the Rocky Hill Civic Association who do so much to help this be a better community. We have active Officers who all perform duties essential to the organization besides joining in and providing counsel on the Board. Marie de Angelis takes care of all our membership dues and record keeping—a big job done very well. Sue Peritz our new Vice President fills in for me at meetings and keeps an eye on issues that come up at PS 18 and throughout the community. Mark Sullivan takes care of our finances and bank account. Bill Schmidt is at our meetings, helping with set up and clean-up in addition to his sergeant-at-arms duties.
Then of course we have an active Board. Their job is to advise but they frequently do much more—keeping an eye on the neighborhood, making recommendations on improvements, helping out with events—like Mike Paparo doing so much work to make Day at the Races a fun event. Patricia Morales has been a big help in getting the bulletins distributed. Which then leads us to the Block Captains who not only distribute the bulletins but keep an eye on their block and notify me or the appropriate authority when something needs to be fixed. Lastly, thanks to all you good neighbors who keep our area so beautiful.
In the past I have written thanks to our many Board Members, Officers, and Block captains who have done so much for our community, all on their own time. They truly deserve our thanks. I would also like to take time to thank all the other persons in our community who do things to help out. Those that just do nice things for their neighbor, rake their leaves—clean their sidewalk (especially the snow in winter), and clean the common areas. We also have persons who are diligent in reporting health hazards, dangerous behavior, broken lights etc. Our neighborhood would not be a great place to live without all these efforts to make it a great community. Many thanks to all.
On September 8th we held a debate of candidates for the democratic primary for Council Member of the 23rd district. The debate was organized in conjunction with several other local civics. It was very successful with nearly 100 people attending. With so much dysfunction going on in our government at a national level it is nice to see how well our local civics work together. Another example of the togetherness our local civics exhibit is on Oct. 3rd when many of the local civic leaders and some other community people are having dinner with Barney Aquilino, former President of Rocky Hill Civic Association, on his visit to New York.
I and the Board Members of the Rocky Hill Civic hope that you have had a pleasant and relaxing summer. It has been warm but it could have been worse.
We start off the season with a bang. As you see on the front cover we, along with four other civics, are sponsoring a debate of the Democratic Party candidates for the New York City Council spot that had been vacated when Mark Weprin resigned.
We hope to bring you interesting speakers once again.(let me know what type of speakers you would like) We also will be dealing with the usual host of issues, our schools, illegal parking, persons who violate our community and also ways to make our community better.
This summer the house next to me was sold and I got a new neighbor. I, of course, went over, introduced myself, welcomed them, and talked a little about the activities of our civic. This reminds me to encourage everyone in the neighborhood to please be conscious to welcome newcomers to our neighborhood and tell them both about the support they can receive from our civic and also about the importance of them being involved in helping to make this a better community.
Early in May I received a letter that was forwarded to me from Senator Avella’s office. It was from the New York State Department of Health. In the letter it detailed all the measures that they will take to prevent escapees in the future. The letter was sent in response to the uproar of the Local Civics and the Senator over two escapes from the Creedmoor lock down facility. Would these reforms have taken place without our strongly voiced concerns? We don’t know but speaking up certainly doesn’t hurt.
Everyone who has read this newsletter knows that we have also battled against overdevelopment in our community. Two proposed nine story towers on Creedmoor grounds are now approved for only one four story building. At this time we are currently in meetings with the State over what development will be allowed on the Creedmoor grounds. We will not be able to nullify it but hope to reach an agreement on development that is fitting for our community.
This week a new issue came up. New York City has plans to place a facility at 207-91 Jamaica Ave. that will house youthful offenders, some who have been convicted of crimes as serious as muggings and robberies. This is part of a program to bring youthful offenders who are imprisoned in upstate prisons back to near their original neighborhoods. Being closer to their families is an obvious advantage to the young offenders but raises obvious concerns for us. We will voice those concerns and try to find out as much information as we can. So far the information supplied to our Community Board has been lacking in detail. Congratulations to the newly elected Officers and Board Members for the Rocky Hill Civic Association. It is so nice to have so many energetic members of the community who are willing to take time from their busy schedules to serve our community.
Thanks so much to Craig Frey who filled so admirably in the last few years as treasurer—it was supposed to be a temporary job that he just kept doing and doing. He really stepped up to the plate when the Rocky Hill Civic needed someone to do this vital job.
I hope everyone had a relaxing Memorial Day (I joined with other veterans for a remembrance in Battery
Park on Sunday and a quiet memorial in Queens Village on Monday—but otherwise, I relaxed). I know June keeps most people busy with graduations and other activities. After that I wish you all a relaxing and enjoyable summer. This newsletter will be back in September.
In recent years we have spent a lot of our time fighting overdevelopment—our zoning rules and the 2 nine story towers that were proposed for the Creedmoor grounds. We will continue to monitor this as the State continues to sell off land on Creedmoor grounds. These are battles that must be fought if they will negatively impact our community.
We have also embarked on some projects that are more pleasant and will do much to enhance our area.
Winchester Mall: Our committee to come up with ways to make the Mall along Winchester Blvd. from Hillside Ave. to Seward Ave. more attractive is making progress. So far approximately 70 surveys have been returned with ideas on how to beautify this area. These will be reviewed and plans developed for the area. We are still accepting surveys up until May 18th so please send in our survey if you have not already done so.
Beautifying the rest of Winchester Blvd.: There is a narrower mall area on Winchester Blvd. from Hillside Ave. to 87th Ave. I had planted daffodils in a number of areas a few years ago. They are still growing well at the corner of 87th Ave. –someone must be watering them—thank you. The RHCA board has voted to pay a modest amount toward plants, soil or other items that would be used by anyone who is willing to volunteer to work on those areas. If you are interested please call or email me (email and phone on first page).
Neighbors who go over and above: Most homeowners in our area maintain their homes and yards in a way that makes our whole community a beautiful place to live. We thank them. We also commend those ( too many to name—or know) who go over and above by helping their neighbors or by cleaning and repairing common areas. It is something that makes our area special.
Reasons to support your civic association: In the 1970’s it successfully fought against the establishment of a poorly run homeless shelter on Creedmoor grounds. In the 1980’s it successfully fought to keep open PS 18 which the city wanted to close. The RHCA also found a place for the Sanitation garage, under the Grand Central—keeping it out of our neighborhood where the city wanted to put it. Imagine our community if these things weren’t done.
In 2007 we embarked on the creation of an area that would be a beautiful center point of our community. At the corner of Hillside Ave. and Winchester Blvd. we now have a sign “Welcome to Bellerose Manor” surrounded by flowers and shrubs. The city takes care of the flowers and shrubs, the sign was expensive—but worth every penny.
In recent years we successfully worked to have our neighborhood rezoned. This meant a downzoning from what was previously on record. Our neighborhood is now preserved for either one family or one and two family homes. We fought against the building of two nine story towers on Creedmoor grounds. These buildings would have overshadowed nearby single family homes and set a terrible precedent.
Those were some of the big battles. Every year the association is here to fight the smaller battles—bus shelters(we got the ones on Union Tnpke. built), street repair, graffiti—which is now virtually absent from our community thanks to our efforts, and all the other issues that crop up. We try to keep you informed with 10 bulletins a year and eight meetings a year with interesting speakers.
We support our local schools, Little League and organizations that are a help to our community e.g. SNAP.
There are many officers and board members who work without pay to make this a better community. Please join with us, support us, or both. Thanks.
I am hoping that by the time this bulletin reaches you the weather will be a little better but I know enough to not hold my breath. It has been rough on everyone. As usual in our community there are lots of people out there helping their neighbors. Unfortunately there are some who have been a bit inconsiderate—I have heard of some persons parking in other people’s driveway’s etc. Please be considerate of your neighbor—most of the time your kindness gets rewarded. I have listed the Rocky Hill Officer and Board positions that are available this year. In order to qualify you simply need to be a member in good standing—having paid last year’s and this year’s dues. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in a position or would like to help with anything else. For instance, in this past year we got a volunteer to be our web master and keep our website updated. We also could use help on the hospitality committee (it is a committee of one right now—my wife Marge). Thanks.
As I sit at home writing this bulletin on this snowy day (they haven’t been hard to find this year) I am reviewing some of the issues that will affect our beautiful community and it looks like it will be an eventful year. We, of course, expect a decision on the project proposed by the ICCC on Creedmoor grounds sooner or later. We have also been informed that land on the Creedmoor grounds will be sold off in the near future and I will be doing my best to represent the community (see article below). We will have a huge meeting in March, along with other local civic organizations, with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. There is a local group that is interested in expanding the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway (this will take a while). That could add an interesting addition to our community. Again, see the article below. Finally we will be working to improve the Winchester Blvd. mall area between Hillside Ave, and Seward Ave. Of course we will be doing all our usual things, including sponsoring a team at HBQVB as we have for longer than I can remember. I think it is a great use of your dues money. We will send out bulletins, host meetings with informative speakers and handle routine complaints as well as we can. Speaking of complaints—we have some members who take the time to complain about the illegal parking of trucks and commercial vehicles on our streets. It would help if more people chimed in. You just need to call 311 and give the details about the vehicle—what and where. No need for you name, address etc. if you don’t want to give that information.
For our March meeting we will once again hold a joint meeting with two other local civic organizations, the
Creedmoor Civic Association and the Hillside-Bellerose Association. This gives everyone a chance to meet
with other people of our community. It also enables us to invite a Speaker who may not normally come to
speak at a meeting with only 15 or 20 people. So we have invited our Borough President Melinda Katz and
she has accepted our invitation. You may want to mark that date. In her position she has the power to be
quite a help to our community and it benefits us if we can make our presence known.
Speaking of making a showing—myself and Joaquin Pradas attending the Annual Legislative Reception of
the Queens Civic Congress on December 13th. This event is often attended by our U.S. Senator Chuck
Schumer. He was busy down in Washington and asked Congresswoman Grace Meng to do the swearing in
of the Officers this year. The event was as usual well attended by local elected officials and their
representatives. The big talk of the event, especially by our Borough President Melinda Katz, was that
Queens had been named the number one travel destination in the United States by travel guide book
publisher Lonely Planet. How special we are.