GLENDALE ROLLS UP ITS SLEEVES
Civic Group Talks Sandy’s Aftermath
Undaunted by Hurricane Sandy, the Glendale Property Owners Association (GPOA) went on with their scheduled meeting last Thursday night, Nov. 1, at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall, with the storm, its aftermath and the ongoing recovery effort on the minds of everyone in attendance.
Bringing with them items to be donated to the areas of Queens hardest hit by the “perfect storm” of the 21st century, attendees heard from Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano, 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP) President Frank Kotnik and others about Sandy’s impact and the need to help those most devastated by the storm get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.
“It’s certainly been a tough ride for a lot of people since Monday evening,” Giordano said. “Say a prayer for all those who lost so much in the Rockaways, especially in the Breezy Point portion.”
Board 5 got “our share” of calls from residents about downed power lines and trees across Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village. While Con Edison was able to restore power quickly in areas with underground wiring, Giordano noted, the utility indicated that it would take longer to bring back energy to areas powered by overhead wires.
Regarding fallen trees, he expressed gratitude for 104COP and other volunteers for doing “a tremendous job clearing a lot of streets” around the area during and after the storm.
“Whatever else I have to say tonight other than that pales in comparison to the troubles elsewhere,” the district manager added.
Kotnik further explained 104COP’s efforts to remove fallen trees and to provide assistance to Rockaway neighborhoods as well as Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel in the days after Sandy struck the area.
“I’m very proud of the members of the patrol. They freed up the streets so emergency vehicles could get through,” he said, adding that the patrol also worked to transport food and clothing donated to Assemblyman Mike Miller’s office to the flood-hit areas.
“This is bigger than anybody knows it’s going to be,” Kotnik said of the damage he observed in areas of southern Queens. “We’re snug like bugs in Glendale, so you might be missing your cable a little bit. Some of us might not have electric. But I know people who don’t have homes.”
“There’s millions of us affected, some worse than others, but some have lost everything,” the patrol president added. “Do what you can to donate. They’re going to need a lot more. It’s a very terrible situation and we’re going to have to help the people of Queens out.”
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo pointed out that his Howard Beach office “was demolished along with everything else in Howard Beach” by the storm surge of Sandy.
“As you go south into Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Broad Channel, the Rockaways, not only do they become more geographically isolated, but it becomes more devastated,” Addabbo said. He noted that the storm left Far Rockaway, in particular, looking like “a war zone.”
The senator implored residents to donate anything they can to help families in these areas rebuild. But Addabbo also conceded that the rebuilding effort would take months.
“It will come. It’s going to take time, but we truly appreciate everyone pitching in,” he said. “In our most dire need and darkest of times, people help out.”
Dorie Figliola, a representative of Miller, noted that many of the local elected officials are working together in a non-political basis with each other and various groups and residents in the area on gathering relief for the storm victims. A number of drop-off points were established around the neighborhood for local residents to bring supplies; individuals have also coordinated on deliveries of donated items to Howard Beach and points south.
“Everybody in the community is pitching in,” she said. “Thanks to everyone who has been chipping in. There’s nothing that’s not needed.”
Giordano also repeated the call for local residents to donate their time and resources toward the relief effort: “Hopefully together, we can all get through this. Make as many donations as you can. We’re New Yorkers; we hang tough.”
Brian Dooley, GPOA president, thanked all volunteers and emergency personnel for their efforts in the post-storm recovery.
On to other issues around the area, Giordano noted that the community board recently submitted to the city its capital and expense budget priorities for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins next July.
Topping this year’s budgetary wish list are improvements to sewer lines in areas of Glendale and Middle Village which have been frequently hit hard by flooding. Giordano told residents that he participated in recent meetings with officials from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and local lawmakers about potential solutions.
“Some of the big improvements they’re doing are along Penelope Avenue in Middle Village,” he said, explaining that a project is in place to install new sewer lines under the roadway. However, Giordano pointed out that the start of the project isn’t expected to begin until 2015 “or so.”
In explaining recent flooding in Glendale, the district manager said that “Glendale has problems that other communities don’t. It is at the end of four different flow patterns” in the sewer system. He stated that the board and local lawmakers “need to prod them (the DEP) along with regard to our neck of the woods.”
Giordano added that the board is also seeking funding for the Queens Borough Public Library to renovate the Glendale branch, specifically to make it “handicapped accessible.”
“There’s been $1.5 million in the budget [for the project] for two years, and that library is not handicapped accessible,” he said, noting that the board is urging Queens Library to construct a ramp or an elevator as soon as possible, even if it means dividing the renovation project into phases.
“Other things can wait til there’s more money,” he added. “How can you get service at the library if you can’t walk up the stairs, or if you can’t lug the baby carriage up the stairs?”
Other ongoing projects around Glendale for which the board requested funding in previous capital budget priority lists include the reconstruction of the retaining walls of the Cooper Avenue underpass and the rehabilitation of the perimeter of the Ridgewood Reservoir, Giordano stated.
The expense budget priorities the board requested from the city include increased funding for local Police and Fire Department personnel, schools, youth programs and senior citizens centers, among others, the district manager added.
Campaigning ‘on hold’
With the election still a few days away, Assemblywoman Grace Meng—who missed GPOA’s candidates’ night forum in October— stopped by to reintroduce herself to Glendale residents. However, she noted that the events of the last week had put politics in New York City on the back burner.
“It’s horrible what’s happened. A lot of us have put a temporary pause on campaigning, because it doesn’t feel right,” Meng said. “I wanted to be here to thank all of your efforts” to provide relief to those hardest hit by Sandy’s fury.
The Flushing Democrat stated that she has worked in her three years in Albany as a “liaison between the community and government agencies” as well as a “bridge builder” in crafting legislation. Among the bills she has sponsored include mandating greater use of the English language in business signage, requiring that the state purchase American flags that are made in the U.S. and creating a city liquor authority to review and approve or deny liquor license application.
Editor’s note: Meng defeated her Republican rival, City Council Member Dan Halloran, in Tuesday’s race for the new Sixth Congressional District seat. For full results, see the story on Page 4.
The next Glendale Property Owners Association meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday night, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall, located at Myrtle Avenue and 68th Street.