The Civic Scene: CB 8 works to maintain residents’ quality of life

By Bob Harris

Our quality of life can only be maintained if we report problems to New York City’s departments. In the April 2011 district manager’s report, Marie Adam-Ovide of Community Board 8 told what our departments did for us. If you call CB 8, it will call 311 and keep a record and report back to you the results of actions taken by city agencies. The number is 718-264-7895.

The city Department of Buildings received a total of 129 complaints to 311 from CB 8. Most were reports to the DOB for work done without permits. Five stop-work orders were issued as well as eight partial-vacate orders.

The city Department of Consumer Affairs conducted 138 inspections last month and 62 violations were issued. Some were for store receipts, inadequate weights and measures and lack of consumer pricing.

There were a total of 282 city Department of Environmental Protection complaints filed for February. The most complaints were for sewer backups (30) and water leaks (29). Lead test kits are available by calling 311. DEP will provide water pipe protection insurance. Homeowners who sign up will be assessed a quarterly fee, and in return DEP contractors will perform the job when a pipe from your home connected to the main is broken.

The NYPD Traffic Command has issued a total of 19,486 parking violations in CB 8 for February and March. Walking traffic officers continue to patrol Union Turnpike and issue tickets if anyone stops in a bus stop. They use handheld devices that issue tickets immediately.

The NYPD has reported over the months about criminal activities. Crime comes and goes, but is higher during recessions. One has to be alert, keep lights on, always lock car and house doors and report any incidents to 911 or 311. Also call CB 8.

We can keep our neighborhoods nice places in which to live if we do the things that need to be done. Pick up after your dog; do not post fliers on poles, mailboxes or trees; use street-lifter baskets for pedestrian trash only; clean your sidewalk up to 18 inches into the gutter; place refuse and recycling out earlier than the evening prior to pickup; and place refuse in a sealed container or heavier black plastic bag, which will not blow around on a windy evening. Also, keep tree pits free of trash and water new trees if it is hot during the summer. Cover over or report graffiti to 311.

CB 8 reminds us of the hours when people can operate noisy machines or do construction. Lawn mowers or other noisy landscaping devices can only be used between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. — or sunset, if it comes later — and between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekends or holidays. Contact CB 8 or 311. The DEP may not send an inspector for a few weeks, so keep a log of times of the noises and any specific day they occur on. The inspector, like a police officer, must witness the violation to be able to write a ticket or make an arrest.

Building construction can only take place between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Alterations or repairs to houses can take place on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. provided they are located more than 300 feet from a house of worship. Construction may take place at other hours only with a special permit from DOB or the city Department of Transportation.

GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Last month, CB 8 passed a resolution supporting the views of parents, students and community leaders that the city Department of Education should not close the school but provide money to help students learn.

Some community people are annoyed that at a public hearing buses of people for charter schools came and cheered for them. It seems these new charter schools receive new technology equipment but the students still at Jamaica HS have old equipment, if any at all. While Jamaica HS still services special-needs students and foreign-born students, many smaller schools accept few of these students who need so much help and services.

BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Now we learn that GE paid nothing in taxes last year. Then there are all those millions of dollars in bonuses people in the banking industry and stock market are now earning.

There is opposition by a few to the wealthy paying a little more in federal taxes, but our economy cannot continue with our gigantic deficits.

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