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Thursday, November 29, 2012

MLS ‘Land Grab’ Deal

MLS ‘Land Grab’ Deal

Alfredo Centola, President of the Malba Gardens Civic Association.
A local civic leader is calling out elected officials to protect Flushing Meadows Corona Park from a proposed soccer stadium.

A letter from Alfredo Centola, President of the Malba Gardens Civic Association:

This quote from  The New York Daily News dated November 27, 2012 Garber told The Associated Press the league hopes to build a stadium on a 10-acre site in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and expects to have an expansion team play there starting in 2016”.

So we as residents and taxpayers of Queens County are to accept another land grab from us to a major corporation.  10 acres of Parkland is about to be stolen from us and we are to accept it?
“MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Monday the league is “at the finish line” in talks with the city to acquire land in soccer-crazed Queens for a stadium to house the league’s 20th team.”
Ok, so as a “soccer crazed Queens resident” I am offended!  THE CITY, is to take taxpayer parkland and “Acquire” the land in order to hand it over to a for profit corporation?  From what I know of “soccer crazed Queens Residents” we like to go to the park and PLAY soccer on the weekends.  We like to enjoy OUR Parkland for ourselves, our families, our children.  We do not want to pay a minimum of let us say for arguments sake, $80 – $150, to watch others play. While I am certain many of us would love to take in a game with the family, and most of us would do so from time to time.  I question the legitimacy of taking taxpayer land away from the taxpayer and giving it to a for profit corporation.

Where is the Queens Borough President on this? Why has she not spoken out against this? If this were in Manhattan and we were talking about taking away 10 acres from Central Park in order to build yet another stadium, what would their Borough President be doing? What would our Mayor, a Manhattan resident, be doing? Would they be in favor of such a land grab? I for one doubt it.  Aside from our current lame duck Borough President, where are all the announced candidates that are coming out of the woodwork for the position? Why haven’t any of them come forward and denounce this deal? Why are they allowing this deal to go on?  Where is Senator Peralta whose district encompasses the community most negatively affected by this land grab? As a matter of fact, Senator Peralta should be out there screaming and yelling. Most Hispanics, my in-laws, my friends included, from the surrounding Jackson Heights-Corona community flood the parks during the summer months.  They play soccer, picnic, hold festivals, parties and again PLAY SOCCER, on the land targeted to be stolen. 

Where is Senator Avella on this deal? He was quoted in The Capital as saying “You can’t just say,’oh, that sounds like a great idea.” What exactly does he mean by that? Does it mean the deal can go on but needs to be tweeked? I hope not.  Why hasn’t he come out against this? Is he going to do so as soon he officially declares his candidacy? On that note, is Councilman Peter Vallone also waiting for his official announcement before he denounces this theft? After all many Astoria residents also utilize Flushing meadows park when participating in soccer tournaments. 
Where are Melinda Katz and Leroy Comry on this issue? It is a big issue f
or us Queens voters!

Then we have Barry Grodenchick, who is the “Deputy Queens Borough President”.  Mr. Grodenchick already has “Queens Borough President” in his title; only thing he wants removed is the Deputy part.  My question is: Why has he remained silent on this Land Grab? As the Deputy to the Queens Borough President, as well as a declared candidate, shouldn’t he be speaking out on this? What is his position?
Now please understand, I am not only targeting Democrats.  It’s just that as of right now, no Republican has thrown their hat into the ring. 

As a lifelong resident of Queens, I am calling on all the candidates to make their position public on this issue immediately!  I am calling on the current Borough President to make her position on this issue public immediately as well!

My position, if you want to know is:  This deal is a theft, plain and simple.  The people of Queens are being robbed of 10 acres of park land.  Don’t tell us about the fields you are going to build for us in the surrounding communities in the future.  If you take 10 acres, we want ten acres, and we want to know exactly where and what we are getting in return!

Is the MLS going to allow all that currently use the TEN ACRES to continue using the new stadium  during the warm weather months? Will the taxpayers be able to hold their “pick-up” games on the new fields within the stadium? If so, will there now be a fee?

Better yet, leave our land alone! Do what every legitimate business has done in America since its inception: Find a location, make sure it meets all requirements and codes.  Then buy the property and build your stadium.

America, land of opportunity! Just not on the taxpayers’ backs!
Alfredo Centola

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A positive for our community.

Steve Behar to succeed Senator Avella?

Civic leader Steve Behar may have an opening to run for State Senate.
As the race for Borough President heats up with more prospective candidates testing the waters, one stellar civic leader anxiously awaits an opening to represent New York’s 11th Senate District should the right pieces fall into place.
It is widely rumored incumbent Senator Tony Avella will be throwing his hat in the ring for Borough President. Should Avella become the next Beep, a special election will be held where community advocate Steve Behar will have a chance to take his place in Albany.
Behar, a progressive reformer who ran unsuccessfully for City Council and State Assembly, has been quietly building a coalition of community and civic leaders, which are already expressing encouragement.
Alfredo Centola, President of the Malba Gardens Civic Association agrees Behar would be the right choice for the district. “Steve would be phenomenally excellent and he would take into account all the needs of the community and he would listen to all the different parts of the community and work with everyone” said Centola. “He’s straightforward and he’s genuine, which is rare.”
Democratic District Leader Martha Flores Vazquez also expressed support. “Steve appears to be a gentleman with an open mind; his law experience may benefit the community in the state legislature.”
In what will be a hotly contested race pitting Avella against other campaign heavyweights like City Councilman Peter Vallone and Leroy Comrie, Lobbyist Melinda Katz, and Senator Jose Peralta, despite the strong opposition Avella is said to be mulling a chance to stand out from the crowd to gain a foothold in boro-wide politics for another shot at Mayor in 2017.
in the meantime, Behar, a member of Community Board 11, has been busy honing his campaign skills delivering victory after victory for the Democratic Party. Recently he served as field director for Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages, campaign manager for Senator-elect James Sanders, as well as spearheading the legal team for Congresswoman-elect Grace Meng.
Should the pieces fall into place, a special election will likely take place in February to fill the vacancy. The County organization will have the choice to endorse Behar in the special or risk losing his large base (who will likely stay home in protest) and give rise to Senator Halloran –  a frightening prospect for the Democratic County organization considering Republican Senator Frank Padavan represented the district for over 30 years.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanks to the Dwarfe Giraffe league. True community leaders

NE Queens mobilizes with major rescue effort

Peggy Cerroni shows youngster Brianna Wilson the box where shoes were collected.
Residents in Flushing, Whitestone and College Point were eager to help their neighbors to the south whose homes were wiped out by Superstorm Sandy, but gas shortages and the logistics of transporting a large amount of goods made the prospect farfetched until several groups stepped forward with big plans — and big trailers to match.

Stephen Wilson spent part of the week driving clothing collected by his son’s Boy Scout troop down to the storm-ravaged neighborhoods of Queens, like Breezy Point, much of the Rockaways and Broad Channel.
The College Point resident has a large 12-by-6-foot enclosed trailer that proved handy, but after arriving with the goods, he realized people needed more than warm clothing.
“It was devastation everywhere. It was people wandering around wondering what to do,” he said. “They were looking for cleaning products, shovels, dry food, paper towels and blankets.”

Wilson knew that others in the northeast Queens area wanted to help but did not really know how, so he contacted the head of the Dwarf Giraffe Athletic League, a sports organization for Queens youngsters in which Wilson is involved, and used its massive network of families to get out the word that the league would be having a drive Sunday.
“It started out slow Sunday morning, and after I believe church was done, people just started pouring in,” Wilson said. “The amount of items donated was unbelievable.”
It soon became clear that even Wilson’s trailer would be woefully inadequate.
On a whim, he called his stepfather, an NYPD mechanic, and asked if the shop had any extra vehicles to help.
Soon, a 20-foot box truck arrived at the Dwarf Giraffe gym, at 149-50 15th Road.
It was filled as well.
Wilson and others drove the items down to the Aqueduct Racino, where the Red Cross was sorting and staging items for delivery, and also to the Breezy Point Volunteer Fire Department, which was grateful for the items, which included $1,000 worth of medical supplies donated by an area Wallgreens.