By Joe Anuta
State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) updated Middle Village about what lawmakers are doing to fight pollution-belching trains that plague the neighborhood at last Thursday’s Juniper Park Civic Association meeting.
Residents also had the opportunity to bend the ear of 104th Precinct brass, settle a turf war, meet their outstanding community cops and receive updates on a park in progress.
The next step in moving the location where garbage-toting CSX trains idle in the wee hours of the morning was set to take place this Thursday, according to Hevesi.
The trains currently idle for hours behind the houses of Middle Village residents who live near the corner of Juniper Boulevard South and 69th Place. Long lines of cars are then hooked up behind the engines.
So in addition to exhaust fumes, residents then endure the screech of metal-on-metal as the trains pull away and head north out of the neighborhood, several homeowners have repeatedly said.
The idling point will be exchanged for two points further south. The points will be away from the homes, but one will be closer to PS 128 and another near All Faiths Cemetery.
Lawmakers asked the city Department of Education to conduct an air-quality test last month. The first test showed that the relocated trains would not have a noticeable impact on the health of students, and the DOE approved the move, Hevesi said. But in order to make sure the move will not have adverse effects, and to appease concerned parents the city contracted a further air quality inspection that was set to occur this Thursday.
Capt. Michael Cody, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, also took complaints at the meeting and got an earful from residents who complained about speeders, illegally parked cars and noisy parties.
Cody assured residents he would look into each situation that was mentioned.
“If he says he’ll look into it, he’ll look into it,” said civic President Robert Holden.
Holden also presented four officers from the 104th with awards for outstanding service.
Sgt. Michael Jones and police officers Nigel Peart, John Ryan, Robert Sowden and Sabrina Inga all took their awards and posed for pictures, but quickly shuffled out afterward.
A green space may be coming to Middle Village, according to Lydon Sleeper, chief of staff to City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).
Crowley’s office is currently negotiating with the city and the Long Island Rail Road to remove an abandoned newsstand at the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road and instead replace it with a green space, he said.
Crowley’s office allocated $100,000 in the fiscal year 2010 budget to have it removed, but since the plot is not owned by the city — and hence city funds would be going toward a non-city purpose — Crowley’s office has been navigating the bureaucratic landscape to try and get the project started.
Although he could not put a specific timeline on the project, the LIRR visited the site the day after the meeting to advance the project further.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.