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Noisy booze cruises disturb Whitestone residents

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D- Bayside) speaks to Whitestone residents
Photo by Gina Martinez
By Gina Martinez

Traffic and noise from booze cruises in the harbor were the main topic of conversation at the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association meeting last week.

City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) and Richard Gippetti from the Department of Transportation’s Queensborough commissioner office attended the meeting and answered residents’ questions and concerns.

Gippetti said there have been a lot of calls to the DOT about speeding.

“One of the bigger issues in Whitestone is speeding,” Gippetti said. “We get a lot of requests for stop signs to curb speeding. I bring this up because stop signs are not meant to curb speeding— stop signs are to assign the right of way of vehicles.”

One resident asked if speed limit signs could be posted on Clintonville Street, where she said school buses from Vallo Transportation drive by at full speeds, not following the speed limit and endangering pedestrians.

“The speed limit is 25 mph unless otherwise posted,” Gippetti said. “You can always request speed limit signs from the DOT, but I think you might get a response to the tune of “the speed is 25 mph unless otherwise posted”. We would look into speed humps, but Clintonville is a bus route so we cant put speed humps.”

One man was critical of the newly installed street lights. He said the new LED lights are fine, but they need a diffuser so that the light spreads and is brighter.

“It acts like a spotlight not a floodlight,” he said. “A diffuser makes it spread like a floodlight, especially in the Whitestone community, where there are several trees in the neighborhood. You can be 20-feet away from the light and be pitch black. Last week I popped the hood of my wife’s car and I had to get a flashlight, I was only 10 feet away from the light and it was totally useless. Mechanically, it should sit a few inches lower and with a diffuser.”

Gippetti said the point of switching to LED lights was to make it more efficient, but he agreed it can get dark.

“You can request a lighting adequacy survey,” he told the member. “I would make those requests in the spring when the leaves are coming out of the trees and we’ll go out there and check the luminosity.”

Vallone updated Whitestone residents on an ongoing battle they have had with noise coming from boats, especially booze cruises, on the harbor. Vallone said the first task force meeting focused on the booze cruises.

“Whitestone was inundated with not just helicopters but also with the boats, which decided to start blaring music along our coastlines,” he said. “A lot of times we couldn’t pinpoint where the noise was coming from. It wasn’t coming from the Citi Field parking lot, it wasn’t coming from Flushing Meadows or from Randall’s Island. A lot of times you couldn’t tell, even into November, because we had a warm November. They were advertising booze cruises along Whitestone and they would pick up at Citi Field marina and the question became, ‘What do we do about it?’”

Vallone said he put a group together to design a new system of enforcing activity on the harbor. Vallone said there was confusion over jurisdiction between the 110th and 109th Precincts. Initially it was believed the 109th controlled the Citi Field Marina, but it was actually the 110th, which would call Harbor Patrol and by the time they got there the boats were gone. Vallone said he is working with Braunstein to create bills to revoke the permits for theboat companies who have gotten previous complaints and a bill that says the booze cruises have to be a mile offshore

“Because Whitestone raised their voice,” he said, “like you did with the helicopters, now when the season starts on Memorial Day the 109th is going to be outfront along with the 110th and harbor patrol, so things will stop rather quickly.”

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

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