By Naeisha Rose
Terrorism, education and mental patients were some of the issues on the agenda for the last Community Board 13 meeting of 2017 Monday night in Bellerose.
The meeting took place at the Assembly of God Church, located at 240-15 Hillside Ave., just over 12 hours after Bengali terror suspect Akayed Ullah, 27, failed to detonate a pipe bomb strapped to him while he was in a pedestrian walkway under the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Capt. Kevin Chan of the 105th Precinct gave board members, civic leaders, residents and Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) a rundown on what happened in Manhattan that morning.
“He exploded pretty much,” Chan said. “He was taken to the hospital and this happened around 7:20 a.m.”
Later Chan listed the items Ullah allegedly used to make the bomb.
“It was made out of Christmas tree light bulbs, small batteries, zip ties, sugar and Velcro,” Chan said.
The captain said there were only three injured, including the accused bomber, but he reminded everyone at the meeting how to respond to suspicious activity when they are on the subway.
“If you see something, say something because we have to work together, hand-to-hand,” Chan said.
During the meeting, Hyndman expressed her worries for about a backlash against the Muslim, South Asian and Bengali communities because of Ullah’s actions.
“I think it is important to reach out to our South Asian and especially our Bengali communities and let them know we stand strong with them,” Hyndman said. “Queens is the most diverse place on the planet, so we have to make sure our Muslim brothers and sisters aren’t subjected to any form of hate crime.”
Throughout the evening education was also brought up.
Many civic leaders who have visited the schools in southeast Queens and are a part of the school boards and parent-teacher associations meetings were happy with the progress those institutions were making.
Learning that Martin Van Buren High School was off the struggling schools’ list as of Dec. 1 brought smiles to the civic leaders in the room.
Hyndman, who is an IS 109 alum, announced the middle school in Queens Village would be one of the first intermediary institutions in School District 29 to have classes for exceptional students.
“I am proud to announce IS 109 would have the first districtwide gifted and talented program for sixth to eighth graders starting fall of 2018,” she said.
The mood changed in the church, however, as civic leader after civic leader mentioned the quality-of-life issues that have become more pressing because of outpatients from Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village roaming throughout southeast and eastern Queens and disturbing residents.
“In the past year and a half there have been problems with the patients of Creedmoor,” said Bobby Sher, the board president of Bell Park Manor Terrace Civic Association.
According to Sher and the other civic leaders, the patients have been walking onto residents’ property and sometimes leaving it in disarray, panhandling, harassing the elderly and defecating near dining establishments and homes.
Many of the civic leaders blamed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s policies to deinstitutionalize mental patients by calling them outpatients, which means they can come and go from Creedmoor and other hospitals as they please, according to the civic leaders.
“It’s very sad, because technically they were inpatients, but because of a whole political thing with Gov. Cuomo they are now outpatients,” Sher said. “They are sent out in the street after breakfast…what are they supposed to do and where are they supposed to go?”
Sher hopes that a stronger police presence at the hospital could ameliorate the situation until a better and permanent solution to handling the patients is found..
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose