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Thursday, May 19, 2011

More Civic Mindedness in Whitestone

Also from Whitestone Times:

Whitestone’s civic leaders are clashing and local politicians are taking sides.

The Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Association will likely soon be facing new competition from the Welcome to Whitestone Commercial and Residential Civic Association proposed last month by Devon O’Connor, founder of the year-old Welcome to Whitestone community group.

The possibility of a new game in town has instigated divisive reactions by Whitestone’s local legislators and its other, smaller civic, the Malba Gardens Civic Association, which was reactivated several years ago by Al Centola after more than a decade of inactivity.

City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) has said he supports the creation of any new groups that will advocate for his constituents, while state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has argued emphatically that the creation of a new civic would divide Whitestone.

“It’s unfortunate there will be another civic that is in competition with the Taxpayers,” Avella said earlier this month.

Marlene Cody, a vice president for the Taxpayers, and Avella did not return repeated requests for comment.

Avella ruffled O’Connor’s feathers earlier this month when he contended that the 20-year-old may find himself in legal trouble by raising money for the Welcome to Whitestone community group while it is still under consideration for official nonprofit status, according to Avella spokesman Ed Fleming and O’Connor.

“Tony Avella told my grandparents that someone should look into Devon’s finances, that maybe [I] was doing the organization wrong,” O’Connor said. “I haven’t done anything wrong, my lawyer says I haven’t done anything wrong, so I have no idea what the problem is.”

O’Connor said he wants to start the civic to help the community, which he says is not being fully represented by the Taxpayers.

“To say the Taxpayers represent the community, I’m not saying they don’t, but I’m not saying they do either,” he said. “A lot of people I’ve spoken to don’t even know who the Taxpayers are.”

Cody has not commented publicly on the new civic, but she has taken a chilly tone toward Centola’s group. Both O’Connor and Centola have expressed dissatisfaction with the efficacy of the Taxpayers.

An e-mail Cody sent Centola May 11 about a community issue revealed a new contempt for the community, according to Centola.

“We received your e-mail. You are not a member of our civic. If our members have questions, they can contact us,” the e-mail began before failing to respond to his concerns. ( Cody's email was posted on a previous post)

Centola believes that the group feels it is under assault by new blood.

“They’ve had a lock with the politicians and now there are other groups making a stink and mixing things up and they’re worried,” Centola said. “Anything that’s going to come out for the betterment of the community and is going to open dialogue and discussion I think is good. The Whitestone Taxpayers have had a stranglehold on the community for too long, and they’ve become complacent.”

O’Connor and Centola planned to meet Tuesday to discuss ways they can work together.

Halloran said he supports the creation of new civics.

“We want to preserve and protect the neighborhoods, but at the same time we need to represent the small-business owners in the community,” Halloran said. “It’s a big enough community, there certainly could be more than one civic association here.”

An open letter to City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone): As well as Avella, and Braunstein

From Whitestone Times

We are getting a lot of feedback with regards to the Community Board 7 meeting Malba Gardens Civic Association President Alfredo Centola attended last month. As per our conversation with your chief of staff, we were told the councilman spoke to city Department of Transportation Queens Commissioner Maura McCarthy about the trial one-way westbound conversion at 5th Avenue from 147th Street to the Whitestone Expressway service road. It was to be on a trial basis and that she had no objection to it.

Then at the meeting, as you know, CB 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty announced that McCarthy was not in favor of a trial one-way. In speaking with several of our members, who are also members of other local civic associations, there are several questions being raised that need to be answered and/or clarified.

We do not understand how McCarthy would not contact the councilman about her “sudden change” in position. We appreciate the letter the councilman was about to send McCarthy in order to make the “formal” request and trust he is still willing to send out the request.

As you are aware, state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) was at the meeting and said he would speak to the councilman about requesting the trial one-way. Kelty suggested that the assemblyman and councilman contact the commissioner’s office, as it may sway her back to her original agreement with the councilman.

Your attention to this dangerous situation on 5th Avenue is greatly appreciated, as is all the hard work and time your office has put into this issue.

We look forward to meeting with you in order to get some insight as to what actualy transpired and what the next course of action will be.

Laurie Reegan
Second Vice President
Malba Gardens Civic Association

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The colaborative community response to our open letter to GWTCA

Below is the response to our letter from the GWTCA.  As we reach out to the largest civic group in our community with the words "Greater Whitestone" in its name, we are confused with the lack of willingness to work as a community to resolve a serious problem in Whitestone.

The previous post has the original letter if you want the background , and this is their response, you decide.

From: GWTCA (
Sent: Wed 5/11/11 12:49 PM

Dear Malba Gardens,

We received your e mail. You are not a member of our civic if our members have questions they can contact us. You where informed at the CB 7 meeting of our decision on the 5 th ave one way. The 109 has there meeting tonight at 730 hope you can attend to discuss the enforcement issue.As for working together we do with civics you only care about 5 th ave. we have many problems in the area but you are never hear from you.

Marlene Cody

Vice President
Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association



Sunday, May 1, 2011

An open letter to Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Association, Waterside Estates, and Whitestone Boosters Beach

The Following is a letter our group sent out to Greater Whitestone Taxpayers, Waterside Estates, Whitestone Boosters, Community Board 7, and all our Elected Representatives, in the hopes of creating a true Community based effort to remedy a serious Traffic Problem.

After meeting with our members last night, several of which belong to Whitestone Taxpayers as well. There were several concerns that were voiced regarding the problem on 5th avenue. While the discussion of getting enforcement was a good start, it is unfortunately a temporary fix, as the minute PD is not present for more than a day the trucks will be back. There is also the fact that as per DOT 107 cars per hour travel on our small residential street with 33% of those cars speeding . This too needs to be addressed, as it creates a seriously dangerous situation.

Our goal is to work together with your group as in the past with Pat Carpentiere and Barbara Ellenberger. With that being the goal, we are asking you what suggestions your group may have that would rectify the problem before it is too late.

We have proposed the following:
1) Bollards running from the exit down to just past 4th avenue (Proposed by Whitestone Taxpayers).

2) Talking to MTABT about stationing the officer that is to be under the Bridge at the corner of 3rd avenue allowing them to enforce truck restrictions and slowing down cars (Proposed by GWTCA).

3) Removing the extended concrete divider back past 6th avenue as it was pre 1994 ( a little further back for slowdown before turn), thus allowing cars the option of turning onto 6th avenue as well as 5,4,3rd avenues
(as it was from 1939 - 1994).

4) Getting the exit pushed back to the original design of 7th avenue which, as we all know is a 70 foot street that leads to a commercial part of the neighborhood. It was designed by Robert Moses to be the exit street and handle exiting traffic.

5) Turning 5th avenue to a one way westbound operation.

6) Turning both 5th and 4th avenues to a one way westbound operation (Proposed by GWTCA).

7) Keeping the 3rd avenue exit closed permanently except for Emergency Vehicles as on the Cross Island Parkway by the BayBridge complex. This would alleviate all traffic problems in the entire area, would alleviate much of the crime issues by eliminating the easy access to the community, increase property value, and many more benefits that we can discuss at a later time.

With the 3rd avenue exit being closed for a two year period, this will give us in the community an opportunity to see how we are affected and if it can work. For the benefit of the entire community, we should utilize this closure as a "trial period" before we make any decisions against permanent closure. This is a gift being given to us in the community and we should not let it be wasted.

We still feel that converting both 5th and 4th avenues to a one way on a trial basis (until exit is closed) would be a good test to see how it affects the community and give us the ability to reconvene and work out any issues that may arise. This would allow us all in the neighborhood to have an educated say in how we the community members are affected. Instead of pushing ahead for a permanent conversion with no recourse after.
These are our suggestions and concerns regarding the 5th avenue problem we await your suggestions and working with your group to make our community safer for all the families that live in it, especially their children.

Malba Gardens Civic Association

We will be emailing our letter to PD requesting enforcement, and highlighting the lack of enforcement within our entire community. With your input we hope to send a detailed Group letter.