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Bioswales, scam artists, discussed by community organization

Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association meet to discuss neighborhood concerns
Photo by Gina Martinez
By Gina Martinez

Bioswales and what they mean for Whitestone home owners were two of several community concerns discussed at The Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association meeting last month at the American Legion Post in Whitestone. Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D–Flushing) and Deputy Inspector of the 109th Precinct Judith Harrison spoke at the meeting, which also addressed sewage management, potholes and helicopter noise.

Assemblyman Simanowitz explained that bioswales, also known as “rain gardens,” are part of a New York City environmental initiative. The city installs two curb cuts before building an elongated tree pit with some plant life, he explained. The city then builds a dry well underneath and some gravel and dirt so that when there is heavy rain, excess water is directed towards the catch basin to help prevent flooding.

Simanowitz said that the decision on whether or not a bioswale is installed in front of a home is one that should be left up to the homeowner.

“You want to put one in front of my house? Be my guest,” he said. “But how can you do something without consulting the homeowners?”

A Con Ed representative spoke, telling people to ask for identification before allowing anyone into their homes who says he or she is a Con Ed worker. He also handed out pamphlets that reminded them to be careful with natural gas in addition to offering tips on how to deal with gas leaks.

Deputy Inspector Harrison stopped by with fellow officers to talk about crime in the area. She told members that Whitestone is doing fairly well but that there has been an uptick in crime, particularly grand larceny and theft. She told members a lot of these thefts occur because residents leave valuables in their cars in plain view.

“When you look at what’s being taken, its laptops, cellphones, wallets, and GPS systems,” she said. “I don’t know why you would leave those in your vehicles. You live in a great area, you have nice homes, you have nice cars, and unfortunately that attracts people that want your property.”

The other major issue Deputy Inspector Harrison focused on was scams. She warned that the elderly are a target for scams and that there have been various reported cases of phone scams.

She also told members about an Aug. 25 incident in the area. A 79-year-old woman lowered her guard and got swindled by a couple in the street who told her they found a bag of money and they wanted to share it with her, but first she had to give them cash. The elderly woman got into a car with the couple and let them into her home to get the cash.

“These people could have taken her somewhere and killed her,” she said. “You don’t get into a car with people you don’t know. We tell our kids don’t talk to strangers but as adults we need to know better as well.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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