The Civic Scene: Development, traffic worry neighborhoods

By Bob Harris

The summer edition of the newsletter of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association expressed concern that there will be an unwanted impact on their community if a developer buys the Klein Farm and builds nearly a dozen two-family homes on the plot. The Klein Farm on 73rd Avenue near 195th Street is the last privately owned farm in Queens. Crops are grown on the land adjacent to P.S. 26 and on land owned by the farm in Long Island.

Several years ago the land of the Fresh Meadows Housing Development was declared a Preservation District. This had been done because the then-owners of the development wanted to tear down the beautiful large oak trees in the oval Oak Grove and build apartment houses. There now must be a public hearing prior any development on the land, which includes the Klein Farm.

If trees are torn down on the Klein Farm to build houses, the entire nature of the area will change. Judith Schwartz, editor of the newsletter of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association, expressed the concern that if developers are permitted to build on this land then others will build elsewhere on other preserved areas. Also, homeowners of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association are fearful that residents of 22 two-family homes would park cars and vans on their crowded streets with the resulting noise and pollution. A public hearing by Community Board 8 will be necessary if anything is proposed.

The Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners newsletter discusses the concerns about the experimental elementary school PS 499 on the Queens College campus. The Kew Gardens civic and other civics adjacent to Queens College feel that parking for the staff of PS 499 and the school buses which will transport the students will cause traffic and parking problems. The civic has proposed that parking be provided on the Queens College campus and that there be an exit road to divert cars away from Reeves Avenue on which PS 499 is to be located. The continued expansion of Queens College, St. John’s University and Queensborough Community College has long concerned residents living near these schools.

Writers of the June newsletter of the North Bellerose Civic Association, “Newsbits,” expressed displeasure over the proposed 3.5 percent increase in the water and sewer rates by the city Water Board. The Queens Civic Congress had testified against this proposal — which was set even before the budget was adopted — as a regressive tax. This raise is just one of many over the years and represent a hardship for single family homeowners, co-op owners and small businesses.

It seems that the city is raising water and sewer taxes — at least four-fold since the 1980s, said the civic — to help pay for the costs of our water tunnels and the maintaining of our upstate watersheds. It is felt that the city’s capital budget should fund these costs and not the homeowners who do not make any money from their homes until they sell them.

Good and Bad News of the Week

It was good that we had a large federal surplus but it seems that the surplus is gone. The economy has slowed down so the extra tax revenues generated as a surplus have dried up. The tax cut seems to be too large and has used up too much of the money and the Congress has spent too much of the tax revenue for pork-barrel items which were really not needed. It is too bad that too many Congress men and women have spent money on “member items” for their own communities…much of which was really not needed. Too often planes or ships for the military are appropriated so local industries can be given billions. Yes, some things should be provided for local communities but some of it is just wasted. The aging population is using a lot of the Medicare money or the Congress just used it. I don’t know all the tricks they use to waste our money. Then there is the Social Security Trust Fund. Will it be safe from the annual spending?

I feel that our free elections are what makes us a strong, free trustworthy democracy. I marvel every few years how our governments do the things which our people need just prior to the elections every two or four or six years. Until last November, I thought highly of our election system although I wondered about our retaining of the Electoral College and the news broadcasts which predicted our national elections although the west coast and Hawaii people had not finished voting. Now, I have doubts about the conduct of our polling places with poorly devised ballots, people’s names removed from voting rolls, lack of staffing and the inability of telephone lines to answer questions voters had. In some communities voters said that their voting locations were changed and they were denied the right to vote. I am not even going to discuss the problems of people speaking foreign languages being able to have questions answered, because if our society is to be one, then all people should speak a common language. People should bring an English-speaking person with them to the polls if they don’t understand English. Perhaps there should be national voting standard so all these problems don’t occur and weaken our democratic society.

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