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Minutes of the General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Association
September 15, 2014
President – Walter Mugdan
Treasurer – Gary Savage
Secretary – Charles Manna
Board Members Present
Matt Profundi – Aide to Assemblyman Edward Bronstein.
Vito Tautonico – Aide to Assemblyman Paul Valone – District 19
Ahmed Nazaar - Paul Valone’s policy expert
Ellen Young - Director of Donor Relations
Institutional Advancement and Development Department
Queens Library/Queens Library Foundation
89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica, NY 11432
President Walter Mugdan called the meeting to order at 8:05 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.)
Gary Savage gave the Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $19,866.41 as of September 15, 2014. A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded and the report was unanimously approved.
Old Business –
Was temporarily put aside in order to start the meeting with Ellen Young and then with Vito Tautonico
NEW Business –
Ellen Young is organizing a committee to raise funds for the libraries in Little Neck and Douglaston. The current goal is to raise $25,000. The committee will use a multi-pronged approach including:
A fund-raising party next Spring
The "Buy-a-Book" campaign. This will include handing out brochures at the local businesses in Little Neck and Douglaston and getting permission to have a display stand with extra brochures on their counters or in their windows.
Approaching corporate and major business leaders for sizeable contributions to the Buy-a-Book campaign.
Approaching civic organizations, including the PTAs of the local elementary schools, to hand out brochures to children to be brought home.
The Queens Library is a not-for-profit 501C3 entity. Contributions are tax deductible. The new committee is meeting October 7 in Douglaston at 307 Ridge Road. The committee is chaired by Doug Montgomery. It will meet with the existing Friends of the Library committee and discuss joining forces to raise both money and awareness of the many services that are provided by the member libraries. Some of these services include:
Access to desk-top computers to access the internet (there were 3.1 million sessions last year.
The first Universal Pre-K site in any library anywhere
5,000 Google tablets were handed out to Sandy victims by the Library. In addition, tablets are available for lending to members.
There are many workshops, conferences and classes hosted by the member libraries.
There are 62 member libraries in Queens. The Douglaston/Little Neck branch ranks number 37 in member usage and North Hills ranks number 32.
Westmoreland Association members who would like to join the fund-raising committee should call Ellen at 718-480-4276 or email at email@example.com . Walter Mugdan, Charles Manna and Gary Savage are currently active members.
Next on the agenda was a presentation by Vito Tautonico from Councilman Paul
Valone’s office. He came to do a presentation on the new(ish) "Participatory
Budgeting" (PB) opportunity for the District. PB actually started several years
ago, but because the prior Councilman was indicted and subsequently found guilty
of assorted corruption charges, it was not as successful in our District as it
might have been. The concept is fairly simple. Each NYC Council member has a $5
million discretionary budget every year. $4 million are spent according to the
Council member’s discretion. However, $1 million is reserved for projects that
are suggested by and then voted upon by any citizens who reside in the district
and who are at least 16 years old. Vito is organizing a committee whose job it
is to help the community identify projects that might be funded by part of the
$1 million PB fund. Citizens will have the opportunity to suggest ideas to the
committee. They must be capital projects (i.e., involving some kind of
construction); and should generally cost between $50,000 and $250.000. Examples
of project categories include: 1. Schools (e.g., library improvements, computer
labs); 2. Public Parks and Recreation facilities; 3. Health and Safety projects;
etc. Once projects are identified as feasible, the committee members will work
with appropriate City government agencies to cost out the project. All projects
are to be carried out by City agencies from planning to construction and/or
Vito is looking for volunteers to join the committees. There will be several meetings in Councilman Vallone’s office at 42-20 Bell Blvd in Bayside. The first meetings will introduce the concept of the Participatory Budget process and the subsequent Town Hall style meetings will be held throughout the district to begin the process of identifying likely projects. This is a great opportunity for community groups to get together to decide what projects would be supported by the local community.
Some example of past projects are a kayak launch in College Point, renovation of Baum Park, and installation of SMART Boards in local schools.
Ultimately, twenty projects will be selected for the public to choose from. Only people who can show identification that proves they are District 19 residents and who are 16 or older can vote. Voters can select up to five projects. The top five projects, based on all votes cast, will be funded. If the top five don’t add up to $1 million, then Councilman Vallone will select one or more additional projects from those included in the PB process.
Reminder – this is a budgetary process, so it will take two or more years for any of the approved projects to be completed.
Ballots will be distributed to all community groups. There will be at least three polling places for the vote.
[More New Business continued below.]0
Old Business –
Admiral Park – Our Association requested that the flag pole, broken and removed after Hurricane Sandy, be replaced. Assemblyman Braunstein endorsed our request. The NYC Parks Department responded that there was no money in the budget for the replacement of the flag pole.
Peter Reinharz reported at the last meeting that there is a new law, the “Non-Profit Revitalization” act that states, in part, that a not-for-profit corporation must have a policy against conflicts of interest by board members. Board members must disclose any relationship with property belonging to the association, contractors hired by the corporation, etc. The Attorney General will be given more authority to regulate not-for-profits. The Westmoreland Association Board of Directors has adopted a conforming policy.
The Westmoreland Association Bylaws were last amended in the last 1980’s. Proposed amendments to the Bylaws were developed and approved by the Board of Directors. The amendments were posted on the Association's website in July. The September Association meeting included a summary of the amendments and a reference to the web site, and announced that the Amendments would be subject to a vote at the meeting.
Motion was made to accept the amendments as posted on the website and summarized on the back of the September meeting notice. Seconded, and passed unanimously. [The amended Bylaws are now posted on our website.]
Repaving – We had requested installation of one or more Speed Humps on Glenwood Street. Community Board 11 has approved the installation, and the NYC Department of Transportation has agreed to install them at an unspecified future date. (Speed Humps were also added to the re-paved roads on both 41st Ave. and 42nd Ave. on the blocks adjacent to PS 94.)
A Westmoreland resident requested that “Children at Play” signs be placed on Glenwood Street, Morgan Street and 41st Ave. There are enough young children living in houses on those street to justify the addition of the signs. [Mr. Mugdan subsequently sent a letter to the NYCDOT making that request.]
A resident inquired about the restrictive covenant on our deeds that refers to fencing. Mr. Mugdan explained that fences cannot be within twenty feet of the front line, or the side line on a corner property. The front or side line is typically at the curb, but residents should consult their surveys for the exact location.
Mr. Mugdan reported that a non-compliant fence erected between two properties on Nassau Road, which extended closer than 20 feet from the line, has been adjusted to bring it into compliance in response to requests from the Association.
A general discussion was held about the continuing issue of dog attacks. These attacks have been occurring over the past several years. The dog responsible for these attacks is owned by an officer of the Westmoreland Association. Some of the discussion was held off the record.
The discussion was led by residents who own dogs that have suffered the attacks and others who share their concerns. The main presenters were Barbara Schreiber, Lynn Wilson and Sam Lazzaro.
Lynn Wilson stated that her daughter and her boyfriend were walking their Yorkshire Terrier, when he was attacked; the Yorkie was severely injured and barely survived the attack. Lynn says that she has spent over $6,000 so far in veterinarian bills. The dog is traumatized and so is Lynn. She has been nursing her dog for months. (The owner of the attacking dog claimed that the dog broke free from his leash. The daughter claims that the dog was not wearing a collar, suggesting he was not on a leash.)
Barbara Schreiber stated that her dog was attacked as she walked past the house where the offending dog is living. The house has no fencing to restrain the dogs that live there. She stated that three dogs came out and attacked her dog. She lives in the Westmoreland Garden Apartments in an apartment that overlooks the back yard of the house in question. She states that she has seen them playing in that yard, and tearing apart toy animals in a manner similar to the way her dog was attacked. Ms. Schreiber also confirmed that the house in question has no fence to restrain the dogs. She also reported that the dog owners has resisted taking responsibility for the attacks and forced her to pursue legal action against him to recover the cost of the vet bills; the matter took nearly two years to be resolved. She has spent over $5,000 up to now.
Ms. Wilson stated that the dog of another resident, Steven Cushman, was also attacked by the same dog.
The NYC Department of Health requires that every dog should be leashed at all times that it is not in a fenced area or in the house. This has not been the case during any of the attacks, but the police have not taken enforcement action.
[Copies of the police reports concerning the Wilson, Schreiber and Cushman attacks were provided to the Association.]
A story about these attacks was reported in the Times Ledger newspaper on August 14, 2014.
Vito Tautonico of Councilman Vallone's office was to look into this situation to determine what protections the law does or does provide from aggressive dog attacks. So far, the residents who have been trying to get the police to deal with this situation have not been successful. [Mr. Tautonico later advised Ms. Schreiber that any incidents involving dogs (from dogs running loose without a leash, to dog attacks) should be reported to Animal Control at 646-632-6604.
The Association also wishes to learn of any additional dog attacks or related incidents. Residents can contact the Association at 718-224-7256 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, residents are advised to be cautious when walking their dogs on the north end of Westmoreland Street.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 PM.
Charles Manna, Secretary
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