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Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Councilmans response

The following is a series of emails we sent to Councilman Halloran, please note the dates emails were originaly sent and how long it took to respond. Also note how Councilman responds to our requests.



Subject: Removal of Whitestone from CB 7 confines/ 6 acres of CYO
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2010 21:20:34 -0500

Dear Councilman Halloran,

After reading the article on Mr. Schriebers desire to secede Bay Terrace from CB 7 into CB 11, we feel that he is correct in his comments. Community Board 7 being the largest Community board in the city, has been limited in many ways. CB 7 is constantly inundated with issues from Flushing, particularly downtown Flushing, causing neighboring residential communities to be ignored. Many neighborhoods in Whitestone, Bayside, Douglaston, etc, are similar to the Bay Terrace neighborhood.

While moving to CB 11 could be an option we also propose the creation of a new smaller board that deals with the type of neighborhoods that have been misrepresented, in effect making CB 7 smaller and we hope more effective. We feel that a smaller Community Board that focuses on such communities should be formed in order to better address the needs of the community. Such a community board would be able to dedicate more time to Quality of Life issues that come up in such residential neighborhoods.

We also would like to bring your attention to the 50 % Tax Reduction that took effect in June for the remaining 6 acre lot of the old CYO in Whitestone, and the fact that immediately after this large tax reduction the property has immediately been taken off market. Does this mean a buyer was found and property is now in contract? Does it mean that the current owner/developer is now going to develop the property? You can imagine our concern that the Working class residents did not receive such a gracious tax break and more of a concern is what is being planned for the 6 acres? You had assured us that our organization would be kept abreast of any and all updates regarding said property. Also, it has come to our attention that the Agent representing the owner of the property is his wife, is this a conflict of interest? Due to the impact on our community from any development on this property, it would be appreciated if your office informed us of any activity and or update of said site.

We would also like to once again bring to your attention the blighted property on the corner of 154th street and 11th avenue. This property has become not only an eyesore, but a potential hazard waiting to happen so near to an elementary school, PS 193.

Regarding the WPIX story on our street, we are pleased to hear that your office will be working closely with DOT in order to find a permanent solution to our safety problem on 5th avenue. We hope to be an active part in the process. Also, an FYI, to date the stop signs you proposed have not been installed.

Malba Gardens Civic Association

Subject: FW: Removal of Whitestone from CB 7 confines/ 6 acres of CYO
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2010 23:19:39 -0500

Dear Councilman,
We are awaiting your response to the email below which was sent on November 10th.
Thank you,

Malba Gardens Civic Association
Subject: FW: Removal of Whitestone from CB 7 confines/ 6 acres of CYO
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2010 16:15:31 -0500

I received a phone call from one of my members regarding your phone call to him and also received your email to call you, which I did at 3:38 PM today, I was informed you were gone for the day.

My neighbor informed me that there might be some confusion as to what we were requesting in our email.

A) The creation of a new community board or removal of Whitestone and similar communities from the confines of CB7 and into CB11, as Mr. Scrieber of CB 7 stated.
B) The 50% tax break given to the owners of the old CYO property and it then being immediately removed from market, in a time when homeowners are in financial hardship and recieved no such tax break.
C) Dennis Ring had promised our organization would be notified of any updates regarding the six acres.
D) The blighted property on 154th street and 11th avenue

I have linked the email below for you to review. These are just a few of the issues our members want answers to; please email me with a response so I can go back to my members with the information.

Alfredo Centola

From: Malba Gardens Civic Association []
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 1:28 PM
To: Halloran, Daniel; Waranis, Paige
Cc:; Quinn, Christine
Subject: FW: Removal of Whitestone from CB 7 confines/ 6 acres of CYO

Still waiting for your response.
Malba Gardens Civic Association

Subject: RE: Removal of Whitestone from CB 7 confines/ 6 acres of CYO
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2010 17:42:35 -0500From:

Mr. Centola
President of Malba Gardens Civic,

My office did indeed respond to your requests last week and has updated you by copying your organization on all the requests that have been made; our letters to city agencies, and follow up correspondence we have received. In case you have forgotten, misplaced, or lost those items, I am attaching them as a PDF to refresh your recollection.
To specifically address those concerns:
A) Community Boards are established by the City Department of Planning in conjunction with redistricting based on a formula involving land area, population, police precinct coverage, political subdivisions, and geography. This is done SOLELY at the decennial redistricting after census enumeration. Because it is a City Charter governed process, see Section 69 and 70, NYCC, also attached for your education, I can only make recommendations to City Planning, and guide the Bay Terrace Civic in their efforts. Despite your mis-information about my work on the issue of moving Bay Terrace into CB 11, I have spoken quite extensively to BCTA President Warren Schreiber and discussed this issue going forward and how to begin the process at the grass roots level. Please feel free to contact Mr. Schreiber who will confirm the same. I have indeed supported their request for relocation.
Furthermore, the notion of some small abstractly created Community Board is neither practical, economically viable, nor consistent with the requirements outlined in the City Charter. There are assembly districts, senate districts and council districts that overlap these areas- there is plenty of representation available if the elected work with the communities and the community boards have proportional membership on its board. As you are aware I examined the qualifications and residence of all CB applicants this year before making my appointments and will continue to work to make sure that there is fair representation in each community.
B) The owners of the CYO Property may indeed use anyone they like to be a broker, so long as they disclose appropriately, and there are no violations of Real Estate law. As for issues related to the and Department of Finance’s tax assessment, we forwarded a request for status and explanation, which we are still awaiting a reply but in the meantime I have a meeting with Finance next week to discuss general tax issues and will be addressing this specific issue along with others that are at issue in my district.
So far as who they are selling to, if and when they do, our council office is unaware of any new developments, but as you are certainly well aware, private property owners need only disclose change of ownership when they seek to file and record a deed- which has not happened. While we have made inquiries, there has been no confirmation of any change in title or any pending sale.
C) While Dennis Ring left my office in October to enter private practice as an attorney, Paige has been following up on issues, along with Meaghan Mapes, and to date I am unaware of any unanswered correspondence. Please indicate what specific request have been ignored, because we cannot locate any. I am left to ask, what UPDATE do you think you should be getting? That there is NO update on some of these issues?
D) The blighted property on 154th and 11th avenue was indeed reported to the city agencies, as per your request, and efforts to determine violations are underway – the reality is, whether we like it or not, the city cannot simply enter private property and do things without following procedures. We have made requests for the graffiti program that I am funding, to spot check the site and remediate the portions which are publically accessible and I will continue to pressure the owners to take action and have the city enforce violations .
E) The Commissioner of DOT sent a response which was forwarded to you in August denying our request. The reality is that since we are getting the 5th Avenue exit shutdown and we will be able to look at alternate off-ramp locations as the project moves forward. So at this point we are going to have to monitor the changes caused by the closure of the off-ramp and determine where to locate the new off ramp.
I have spoken to my staff who stated that they were very concerned with the tone of the conversation with Mr. Barton, that your organization didn’t believe what they had to say. It seems Mr. Barton was uninterested in speaking any further to my senior Constituent Services Liaison for Buildings and DOT, Paige Waranis. While I understand and share many of your frustrations they will not be resolved by taking contrary and antagonistic tenors with the entire landscape of people who are trying to help.
Should you wish to meet and discuss any of the specific issues here, I will be happy to do so. In the meanwhile, if I receive any updates on these matters, I will make sure that you are also cc’d in any correspondence.
Dan Halloran

From: Malba Gardens Civic Association []
Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 10:39 PM
To: Halloran, Daniel
Subject: FW: Removal of Whitestone from CB 7 confines/ 6 acres of CYO

Also, we have never received the other pdf files regarding DOT, and DOF we thank you for those letters

We would like to also point out that our organization never received any feedback regarding the law Senator Avella tried passing when he was our councilman that would remove the city from the ridiculous Federal DOT guidelines, which according to Queens DOT require 500 plus cars per hour in order to obtain signage and or directional changes. 500 plus cars per hour is a Major Highway, not a residential street. Mr. Ring at the time refused to commit to any discussion and your office has failed to respond to our repeated inquiries on this law and its possible reintroduction.
Malba Gardens Civic Association

Subject: RE: Removal of Whitestone from CB 7 confines/ 6 acres of CYO
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2010 16:10:39 -0500
Honorable Councilman Halloran;

As far as responding to our email originally dated November 10th, 2010. We have no record of any email and or written correspondence from your office about any of the stated issues, so unfortunately the attached pdf files do not "refresh" any memory but are appreciated. Please note that the barton pdf attachment as well as the blighted pdf attachment were both dated August 23rd, which would negate your claim of responding to or November 10th email. This fact notwithstanding, we thank you for your time and response.

With regards to your comment of "My mis-information" about your work on the issue of moving Bay Terrace into CB 11, I do not understand what you mean by this, and await your clarification.

We have reached out to BCTA President Warren Schreiber and welcome any discussion with his organization and you, on this issue going forward and how to begin the process at the grass roots level. I am fortunate enough to be "Educated" and familiar with Section 69 and 70, NYCC and repeat to you that a "grass roots" effort can affect positive change. While you believe that creating a new community board that would take away from CB 7 approximately 100,000 citizens if done correctly. Leaving them with approximately 100,000 citizens, (which seems to be the standard CB size) as not cost effective, we respectfully disagree. As you stated this is a grass roots movement that can and should be mobilized with your office.

Regarding your cc'ing us on correspondence received in response to your letter, about the matter on 5th avenue. We have received nothing via email nor in our PO Box. We were unaware that your office received a response from Commissioner McCarthy regarding your request for a stop sign, nor are we aware of when and where discussions were to take place regarding a permanent solution to our plight. We are however, glad to see that there is the possibility of relocating the off ramp, and that your office will be actively looking into a new location. This is good news to us and we would appreciate being involved in the discussion, as we would also like to know how your office plans on monitoring the traffic once exit is closed.

Yes I am aware of your reviewing all resumes of CB members and applaud you on this very important stance. However, regarding the comments made by Community Board 7 District Manager Bitterman to an MTABT official directly naming me and her disregard for my personal safety to quote, “I would step over his prone body and refuse to call for help", has not been addressed as far as we know by you and or your office. As you should know counselor, Mrs. Bitterman was the author of the survey of which its biased wording we strongly objected to. If she harbors such disregard for my personal safety, how can she be unbiased to our plight? In case of loss, discard, or forgetfulness, I refer you to our repeated emails regarding her comments, which I am more than happy to resend you. The email from the MTABT OFFICIAL mistakenly sent to our association quoting Mrs. Bitterman was read by myself to CB7, and copies forwarded to you , Mr. Ring, and your office with no response forthcoming, that too I would be more than happy to resend you in case of loss, misplacement, and or forgetfulness. I also remind you of the repeated emails sent to you, and Mr. Ring regarding Mrs. Bittermans comments along with the phone calls my members made to your office demanding action. At no time did we receive any emails, letters, or returned phone calls. I am sure your office is working on this issue and my members and I would appreciate knowing the outcome if any.

As you know our concern with the old CYO property aside from the unfair tax break they received is the potentially negative impact any development will have on the community if it is not planned properly . As you are also aware, this property was originally approved for 55 new homes with no environmental and or traffic impact study. This is of great concern to us in the Malba Gardens Section, as well as the residents of 5th avenue who will have to endure all the new traffic if the proper precautions are not taken. Not to be forgotten is the lack of sewage and other infrastructure within that development.

The blighted property on 11th avenue as you know is near PS 193, an elementary school. Just the other day, a couple was in the park near the property when a couple approached some of the children during recess and began to take pictures. The teachers and school staff quickly intervened and Police was called. However, with the type of people sneaking into that property at night, it leaves one to question if this couple was not part of that element. These are OUR children and it is our job to protect them . You may not be able to have a direct say in what happens on that property, but you can, as our elected official keep pressure on those that can to do something about it. Also, it has come to our attention that said property is being considered for a medical center. If so, can your office find out what type of center is being planned, how big it is slated to be, and whether or not it will be a clinic type or a private doctors office. Will it fit with the community as it is?

We would also like to suggest the idea of possibly purchasing the old cyo property and opening some sort of small community center, or even a private community park as Grammacy Park?
With regards to your statement "I have spoken to my staff who stated that they were very concerned with the tone of the conversation with Mr. Barton, that your organization didn’t believe what they had to say. It seems Mr. Barton was uninterested in speaking any further to my senior Constituent Services Liaison for Buildings and DOT, Paige Waranis. While I understand and share many of your frustrations they will not be resolved by taking contrary and antagonistic tenors with the entire landscape of people who are trying to help". I am glad you understand our frustrations for the past FOURTEEN YEARS and appreciate that. While Mr. Barton had a different view of the conversation and what led to his "tone" I do respectfully remind you that the "entire landscape of people who are trying to help", are doing what they get paid to do, as it is their job, they should understand and be apt in dealing with people and their "antagonistic tenors" when their quality of life, their investments, and most importantly their families are threatened. I am sure Mr. Barton would love to discuss with you whatever issues he had with your staff, as well his interpretation of the conversation. I welcome the opportunity to sit with you in the future to discuss what is happening in OUR community.
Alfredo Centola
Malba Gardens Civic Association
One need not have a title nor be in a position of power to affect positive change

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