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Minutes of the General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Association
September 20, 2010
President – Walter Mugdan
Vice President – Sheldon Rosenblum
Treasurer – Gary Savage
Secretary – Charles Manna
• New York City Councilman Dan Halloran
• Bob Nobile, and Don & Judy Oderwald of the Little Neck Pines Association
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.) Treasurer Gary Savage gave the Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $16,915.98 as of September 20, 2010. A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded and the report was unanimously approved.
New York City Councilman Dan Halloran was invited to speak at the beginning of the meeting. Councilman Halloran addressed several issues during his talk. First was the devastating wind event that took place this past Thursday afternoon on September 16, 2010. The event was short but violent. There was a micro-burst, a macro-burst and two tornadoes recorded in the Flushing section of Queens (including Forest Hills, Flushing, Bayside, Auburndale, and North Flushing). The event was the result of a line of storms that extended from southern New Jersey to Connecticut. The storm lasted only a few minutes as it passed through the City. The result was the uprooting of over four thousand mature trees. The results were:
• 15,000 homes lost electricity
• 800 traffic signals were down
• 75 minor streets were blocked
• 45 major streets were blocked
• The tree roots tore up streets and sidewalks. Several gas lines were ruptured and homes had to be evacuated.
• One person was killed
• Auburndale was the hardest hit area.
All trees should be cleared from the streets in the next day or so. However, the clean up will take weeks. New York City is currently applying for disaster relief from the Federal Government by having FEMA declare a state of emergency in North Queens. The city is currently assessing the damage. Everyone who experienced damage and/or loss from the storm should call 311 – extended notification to report the situation. This will help the city get the funds necessary to clean up the damage. Currently, the estimate is that losses will add up to $27,000,000 for businesses in Queens.
Councilman Halloran revealed that Con Edison has trouble finding the switches that needed to be turned off so that the cleanup could proceed safely. He is pushing for the installation of a “Smart Grid” in Queens. It would modernize the electric grid in Queens and speed up the process of identifying the exact location of downed lines and their switches.
Councilman Halloran also reported that the 911 system was overwhelmed by calls. He said that 50% of calls did not get through.
Councilman Halloran complained that the city was slow to recognize the extent of the damage caused by the storm. OEM was slow to call CERT for volunteers. Senior Centers were finally opened as shelters. Generators were donated by Home Depot to supply four synagogues with power for the high holy days; those four synagogues served the members of four additional synagogues. Dry Ice was made available for people who wanted to preserve their food stuff.
Q79 Bus – Councilman Halloran spoke about the replacement of the Q79 bus by a private service, “Shared Ride” program that started today (September 20). The Taxi and Limousine Commission has approved the program. Private vans that have been licensed and insured will travel the Little Neck Parkway route from the Little Neck station of the Long Island Railroad to Jamaica Avenue. TLC plaques will mark the stops along the way. The frequency of the vans will vary from once every fifteen minutes during the two rush hours to once every half hour during off-peak periods. The vans will be marked with the “Shared Ride” logo. They will run from six in the morning until eight o’clock at night on weekdays, and 8 am to 8 pm on weekends. The cost will by $2.00 per ride. There will be a 90-day try-out for the program. Hopefully, the program will reduce the number of cars that come to this neighborhood to park during the day.
Schools Overcrowding – Bayside High School experienced over 120% overcrowding last year. 500 new students enrolled at the start of this year increasing the over-capacity to 140%.
We were able to get more funding for our schools this year. The result was that PS 94 got a new science lab, a $25,000 grant was made available for after-school programs, and ten “Smart Boards” were installed in the local schools. The Councilman is trying to establish a more fair method of distributing funds throughout the district.
Election Day Results – Councilman Halloran reported that only 6% of voters turned out for the primary elections last Tuesday. He noted that some of the voting machines are in need of replacement. Some precincts were not able to report on time because of mechanical issues. Gail Brewer is holding hearing to improve the election process.
Sidewalk Café in Little Neck – The City Council has given provisional permission for the DeMaria Pizza restaurant to have a sidewalk café on the 249th Street side of the building. There has been objection to this raised by the residents of the Little Neck Pines neighborhood. Councilman Halloran is aware of the concerns and will be happy to withdraw the permit if the restaurant does not comply with the terms of the permit. Anyone who witnesses violations is encouraged to report them to the Councilman.
President Mugdan thanked Councilman Halloran for his report to the membership.
Bob Nobile of the Little Neck Pines Association discussed the concerns of the Little Neck Pines Association regarding the permit that was issued to the DeMaria Pizza Restaurant that allows it to have a sidewalk café on the side of its building on 249th Street in Little Neck. The restaurant plans on putting thirty table and chairs on the sidewalk. Three feet of space will be left on the sidewalk to permit pedestrians to pass by. A barrier will be placed to demarcate the café area. The restaurant plans on putting the tables and chairs away each night. The restaurant will construct a step on the side of the building to give customers and staff access to the inside of the restaurant.
The local residents are concerned with the noise created by the number of people who would be outside in the evenings. There is also a concern that there would be debris flying around the area because the restaurant would provide paper napkins to patrons (the restaurant agreed not to use paper plates). The permit allows the restaurant to continue serving customers until 10:00 at night. However, residents are concerned that customers will be allowed to stay later.
Some Westmoreland members expressed support for the Pines concerns, others expressed support for any change in the neighborhood that would encourage patronage to businesses along Northern Blvd. There has been an increase in vacancy this year in the buildings and, at the same time, new buildings have been trying to fill their spaces.
Electronic Recycling – Gary Savage reported that electronics recycling will take place at Travers Park, 78th Street between Northern Blvd & 34th Avenue Jackson Heights, Queens 11372 on Saturday, September 25th from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM
For more information, go to http://www.lesecologycenter.org/ or
Water Meters – NYC is upgrading residential water meters. They will enable the meter readers to use radio frequency to read the meters remotely. The installation takes about fifteen minutes. The technician will need access to the inside of the house to complete the change.
Old Business –
Long Island Railroad – the construction of the Quad Gates at the station has started. The streets have been repaved and the lines will be painted soon. The installation of the new gate arms will commence shortly.
New Sewer Lines: The construction of new sewage line continues. The next project will be along Little Neck Parkway from 40th Ave north. It will connect to the lines that were installed in the Westmoreland neighborhood last summer.
Compliance with our Covenants – a member reported that a house on Nassau Road has constructed a brick wall along the front of the property. We will inspect the work to see if it is a retaining wall, which is not prohibited, or a fence, which is prohibited (if within 20 feet of the front line).
Our remaining meetings during 2010-2011 will be held on November 15, 2010; March 21, 2011 and May 16, 2011.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 PM.
Charles Manna, Secretary
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