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Ufca Eyes the History of the Newtown Creek

Waterway An Issue In Bklyn. And Qns.

The United Forties Civic Association (UFCA) received an overview of the present and future of the Newtown Creek at its Thursday, Oct. 11 meeting at the St. Teresa Parish Center in Woodside.

Mitch Waxman of the Newtown Creek Alliance gives UFCA members an update on the state of the waterway during the group’s Thursday, Oct. 11 meeting at the St. Teresa Parish Center.

Mitch Waxman, a member of the Newtown Creek Alliance who runs the blog Newtown Pentacle, called the polluted waterway “one of the most incredible places, not only in the city, but in the country.”

“There is no Brooklyn, there is no Queens, there is just the Newtown Creek watershed” when on the river, he explained.

“This is kind of a pregnant moment,” he told the UFCA, with work on the new Kozciuszko Bridge set to begin next year.

A recent meeting in Brooklyn with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on findings related to the site’s Superfund status found that on Apollo Street-“the heart of the Greenpoint oil spill”-they pulled of hundreds of small fish, and surprisingly, a large striped bass, “which nobody expected, including the EPA.”

On the other hand, a recent trip along the creek found that a Blissville site-believed to be the former site of the Queens County Oil Works-is leaking oil into the creek in much the same manner as many of the old oil refinery sites in Greenpoint. He added that ExxonMobil, which is tasked with cleaning up the Brooklyn side of the creek, will take responsibility for remediating the Queens location.

The Newtown Creek Alliance has been working for 10 years to highlight the creek, with walks in Maspeth and Long Island City. The group, which recently achieved 501(c)3 status, has also taken over 700 residents on tours of the waterway.

“Everyone knows the horror stories of Newtown Creek,” he noted. “The thing to remember is that in 1900 there was more traffic Newtown Creek than the entire Mississippi River.”

“It was one of the great employers, the great engines of our economy,” he added; in its heyday, over 2 million people worked in industries along the creek.

Board 2 update

Board 2 Chairperson Joseph Conley told the crowd that the strip club at Queens Plaza has decided to rescind their State Liquor Authority liquor license application, but will still seek a license in the future.

According to Conley, an attorney for the club claimed that the club was profitable. “That’s great for you, but we still think it’s out of character in the community,” he stated.

Turning to traffic concerns, Conley noted that 39th 43rd and 48th streets have seen an increase in trucks barrelling down the roads, and that the agency is speaking to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the NYPD on ways to alleviate the issue.

He spoke of a recent meeting at 47th and 48th streets with NYPD and DOT officials.

“The two agencies say ‘there’s nothing we can do,'” he said, “and we find that unacceptable.”

Conley also noted that Mount Sinai Hospital Queens is looking at a site in the new Hunters Point South development for a possible facility. A new high school is also planned in the area; Conley noted that the board wants the school to have a focus on the environment.

He also spoke of several beautification efforts, including possible art fairs on Skillman Avenue, as well as a push to remove vendors from under the elevated 7 train line on Queens Boulevard and a move to beautify an area at 48th Street between 50th and 52nd avenues commonly referred to as “the spiral.”

One resident complained of a grocery store on Queens Boulevard and 40th Street that has extended his market so far into the sidewalk that “you can barely walk anymore.”

Conley noted that the board usually goes into the store to warn residents; if no action is taken, the Department of Consumer Affairs is called.

He also complained of gum on area sidewalks, claiming that the city has focused on quality-of-life issues such as smoking and obesity but “gum is an issue.”

“The sidewalk was literally covered black” from gun in front of one Sunnyside pizzeria, he stated, adding that he has asked the local Business Improvement District to look into purchasing power washers to remove them.

108th Precinct

P.O. Louis Sorrentino of the 108th Precinct Community Affairs Unit introduced Capt. Hugh Bogle, the precinct’s new executive officer.

“It’s going to be a pleasure serving everyone,” he told the crowd.

The precinct saw a slight increase in robberies over the past month, but burglaries and larcenies have declined.

Sorrentino noted a Friday night incident at Doughboy Park, where cops helped break up a “fight between kids.” He noted that the incident was not gang-related.

One resident claimed to see a drug deal go down on 39th Street and 48th Avenue, and told Sorrentino that the incident happened so quickly that he neglected to call 911. Sorrentino urged residents to call the police regardless, as it makes officers aware of illegal activity in that location.

Other news

John Renda of the Sunnyside/Woodside chapter of the Variety Boys and Girls Club, noted that the third annual Dancing With The Community Stars event will take place on Nov. 3 at the St. Teresa Parish Auditorium at 50-05 44th St. in Woodside. Actress Condola Rashad will serve as a guest judge. Call 1-347-610-3707 for tickets.

Swain Weiner, the new head of the Sunnyside Chamber, addressed the crowd, telling the UFCA he hopes to create more of a “marquee value” and to begin to help Woodside businesses as well.

It was announced that Bliss Street Restaurant will be holding a canned food drive from now through Nov. 16.

The United Forties Civic Association meets on the second Thursday of every month at the St. Teresa Parish Center at 50-05 44th St. in Woodside.

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