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Minutes of the General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Association
November 15, 2010
President � Walter Mugdan
Vice President � Sheldon Rosenblum
Treasurer � Gary Savage
Secretary � Charles Manna
� John Mulvey, Representing New York City Councilman Dan Halloran
� Susan Seinfeld, Community Board 11 District Manager
� Elliott Socci, President, Douglaston Civic Association
� Patrick Conti, a Reporter from Patch.com
President Walter Mugdan called the meeting to order at 8:00 P.M. A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted to waive reading of the minutes. (Mr. Mugdan noted that the minutes were available for review on the Westmoreland website.) Treasurer Gary Savage gave the Treasurer�s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $17,010.98 as of November 15, 2010. A motion was made to accept the Treasurer�s report. The motion was seconded and the report was unanimously approved.
Long Island Railroad
The long-awaited installation of the quad gates at the Little Neck Parkway grade crossing was completed. Shortly thereafter, the City installed a new traffic configuration at the crossing which is very controversial.
The reduction in train whistle noise, permitted because of the quad gate installation, was widely viewed as very welcome. Attendees expressed irritation that the bells on the crossing gates continued to chime this summer after the installation of the quad gates was completed. That practice stopped, finally, this fall. Attendees were also pleased that the parking lot was reconfigured to better manage the flow of traffic. However, the new traffic configuration was generally disliked.
Queens Transportation Commissioner Maura McCarthy had been invited but was unable to attend the meeting. She called Walter Mugdan before the meeting and reported on the reasons for the traffic configuration created by NYC DOT � specirfically, the center traffic island that was created north of the crossing. Mr. Mugdan shared Commissioner McCarthy�s information:
� The island median was constructed to prevent people from turning left onto Sand Hill Rd when traveling north on Little Neck Parkway. The purpose is to avoid a potentially dangerous situation where a car intending to turn left is blocked by traffic coming the other way on Sand Hill road � a two-way, one lane road. The car intending to turn left could be �stranded� on the tracks when the gates start to come down for an approaching train. (Mr. Mugdan told Commissioner McCarthy that this new configuration creates difficulty for people who want to enter Sand Hill Rd. Either they proceed further north and do a U-turn, or they must enter Douglas Manor by continuing on Northern Boulevard all the way to Douglaston Parkway (the only other entrance to the Manor area).
� According to a DOT study, prior to establishment of the new configuration, 85% of turns there were in violation during rush hour (when left turns from Little Neck Parkway into Sandhill Road were prohibited).
� New stop signs were added on Little Neck Parkway north of the train crossing to prevent cars from blocking traffic that crosses the tracks. However, Mr Mugdan explained to the Commissioner that often cars are now often stuck on the tracks as people disembarked from cars ahead that stopped there on what is now a single lane of roadway east of the island.
� The median plus painted divider extends 80 feet from the tracks. U turns are now specifically permitted (they were formerly prohibited).
Extensive discussion ensued.
� There is still a dangerous situation for pedestrians who egress from the east side of the parking lot onto 39th Ave. There is no sidewalk.
� Perhaps a STOP sign on the median south of the tracks would minimize the potentially dangerous situation of concern to DOT.
� North of the tracks, people are now making U-turns in order to enter Sand Hill Rd. This is very disruptive to the nearby homeowners, and is also dangerous
� People are still ducking under the gate to get to the trains.
� One local resident noted that she gets trapped in her driveway on the north side of the tracks during rush hour because of the heavy, backed-up traffic. Cars use her driveway to do U-turns.
� Susan Seinfeld of CB-11 noted that the LIRR installed the �No Left Turn� sign because they didn�t want traffic to get stuck on the tracks when a train is approaching. It is clear that the sign hasn�t eliminated the problem. Possibly, it has aggravated the problem.
Elliott Socci of the Douglaston Civic Association said his organization is not taking a formal position, but he mentioned that Bernie Haber of the Douglas Manor Association is raising the issue with the DOT.
Motion made, seconded and passed � �The center median on Little Neck Parkway north and south of the LIRR tracks was not fully discussed with the public before they were installed. As a result, there are problems, probably unforeseen, that have arisen. Westmoreland Homeowners Association feels that there should be a public hearing held by the DOT to discuss these issues to see if appropriate changes can be made.� [On November 21, Walter Mugdan sent Commissioner McCarthy a letter detailing the Association�s concerns and requesting further public interaction.]
The proposal to have restricted parking for at least a short time each week, in order to allow street cleaning and to deter on-street commuter parking, was raised again. Prior to leaving office as City Councilman in late 2009, Tony Avella had written to Walter Mugdan advising that a NYCDOT tracking number was assigned to the question of parking restrictions in the neighborhood. It was turned over to the Sanitation Department. Mr. Mugdan called Sanitation, which advised that the request has to come through the community board. There was no decision to pursue the matter with CB-11 at this time.
Our remaining meetings during 2010-2011 will be held on March 21, 2011 and May 16, 2011.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 PM.
Charles Manna, Secretary
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