Updates on laws, community issues

The Our Neighbors Civic Association of Ozone Park held its most recent meeting on Tuesday, May 6. The audience and speakers tackled many current issues:
Granny’s Law
Michael Johnson, representing Senator Serphin Maltese’s office, announced that Governor David Paterson signed into law legislation to help curb attacks on New York’s elderly population. The law, known as “Granny’s Law” was introduced last year by Senators Frank Padavan, Martin Golden and Maltese in response to a pair of vicious attacks on 101-year-old Rose Morat and 85-year-old Solange Elizee. The attacks stunned the city.
“When anyone gets mugged and assaulted, I consider it to be a serious crime, but assaulting the elderly is an outrageous and potentially life-threatening crime that clearly calls out for more severe penalties. We have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable in our society,” Maltese said.
If an assailant is 10 years younger than a victim, the bill will increase the penalty for assaulting a person 65 years or older from a class A misdemeanor to second degree assault- a class D violent felony that is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
“It is unconscionable that anyone would assault a senior citizen, but we continue to witness these disturbing acts of violence,” said Paterson. “I am pleased that my colleagues in the Legislature worked together to pass this legislating, and that this bill provides a measure of safety for our elderly.”

Homeless Vets
President Eric Ulrich asked the members if they would support legislation that would help homeless veterans. The civic will be sending a letter to Congressmember Anthony Wiener regarding the Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund which would allow for a check off box on income tax forms where people could choose to donate a few dollars to help out our homeless veterans.
“There are 154,000 to 200,000 homeless veterans on the streets across the country, which is a big disgrace,” Ulrich said.
Everyone in attendance voted in favor of sending the resolution to Congressman Weiner.

84th street Conversion
City Councilmember Joseph Addabbo updated the Civic on the latest regarding the conversion of 84th Street from two-way to one-way and explained the process involved in making this request.
“Right now studies are being done to determine if the conversion is appropriate. We hope the city acts quickly. It’s a safety issue more than anything,” Addabbo said.
Addabbo said that once the petition was received and signed by a consensus in the affected area, it was sent along with a cover letter to The Department of Transportation (DOT).
Once received by DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, she then discusses the petition with Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy and they commission a study of the area in question.
Under federal guidelines, they will do a vehicle traffic count, pedestrian traffic count and several studies. Other things that are taken into account are the proximity to a park, school or senior center. These studies usually take several months. When the DOT decides that they have enough information they will then contact Addabbo with feedback and then with an answer.
Addabbo is hopeful the conversion will be approved, but is ready to keep fighting if the request is rejected.
“DOT basically told me by the end of this month we will hear something,” he said. “If the answer is yes, we will find out when the conversion will go in. If the answer is no, that’s not the final step. We can always disagree with the DOT. I will go back to the commissioner’s office and say, ‘What factors did you use?’ ‘Did you take this into consideration, did you take that into consideration?’ We’ll compare notes at that point and sometimes they change their mind.”
The next meeting of the Our Neighbors Civic Association of Ozone Park will be on June 3.

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