Queens Community Board 9 tackled a packed agenda at their first meeting of the new year inside of the Helen Marshall Cultural Center at Queens Borough Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 10. From handling old business and the approval of liquor licenses, to committee member updates, there remained a heavy focus on public safety and health care throughout the night.
Capt. Jeremy R. Kivlin, commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, attended the late night meeting and reported a lower crime rate for the area over the last two months. Two major crime categories, robberies and burglaries, were also down for the precinct, Kivlin said.
Over a 28-day period including the first week of the year, robberies and burglaries were down in the 102nd Precinct, crime stats reveal. The precinct still faces difficulties in other crime categories such as petit larcenies, misdemeanor and felony assaults.
The 102nd Precinct serves a portion of central Queens containing Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and the northern part of Ozone Park.
“We just finished the year, up 30% in crime, which I’m not happy about. However, we do have indicators that we are moving in the right direction,” Kivlin said. “I’ve come here month-after-month to give updates and say you know, maybe things will be better. But I can actually say that the last two months of the year, we were down in crime.”
One issue brought to Kivlin’s attention was an increase in smoke shops opening on Jamaica Avenue. The worry and confusion comes after the opening of more dispensaries in the city and the legitimacy of smoke shops that seem to operate without a license.
“It’s a fairly new problem,” Kivlin said, regarding smoke shops. The 102nd Precinct has begun to conduct enforcement on smoke shops selling marijuana without a license, he added.
During the consumer affairs and public safety committee report, the board voted to oppose the new beer and cider license application for the Two Friends M & A Deli Corp in Richmond Hill. The opposition was made for the same reason the Richmond Hill Deli Corporation renewal for beer and cider was opposed — establishments that are not restaurants or bars will not receive the approval.
“So the issue here is again an ongoing question that we’ve always dealt with and that is, when these grocery/delis want to have an on-premise license, grocery stores are not fit because they’re not restaurants or bars,” Committee Chair Rabbi Daniel Pollack said. “It’s been a persuasive discussion of our board not to have additional liquors or any type of license permitted in a deli which does not warrant to have an on-premise license.”
The Health & Social Services Committee Report, given by committee member Daniel Chu, touched on the topics of health and an overwhelming issue regarding access to medical treatment in Queens.
“A few months ago, my father got pretty sick and we had to bring him to the emergency department of a local hospital here in Queens. He was in the waiting room for seven to eight hours before he was allowed to enter the ED,” Chu read from his prepared statement. “Once he was in the ED, he was placed in a hallway and that’s where he was evaluated and treated for the next three days before he was admitted and given a room. This happened much later, when he got sick again. Again, three days being treated in the hallway without visitors until a bed was available.”
Chu went on to share how his friend’s father, who has since passed, had to be sent to another hospital in Long Island in order to seek treatment because the nearby emergency rooms were too full.
At the end of his statement, he pleaded with the board to recognize this persistent healthcare crisis and help to allocate the proper funding to hospitals. Chu also called on Councilwoman Lynn Schulman to help aid in these efforts.
“This city should not be spending $10 billion in jails. It should be spending $10 billion on hospitals,” Chu said.
Chairperson Sherry Algredo agreed with other board members to obtain and distribute the letter written by Chu to elected officials so more progress could be made on tackling the health crisis.
“We do have a voice and we should use it more often and speak up for the things that matter,” Algredo said in support of Chu’s statements.
The community board also made reference to a years-long battle to discover the fate of the Richmond Hill Library renovations, still unaware of when construction will start. Algredo said the renovations were supposed to happen this year, the board has yet to find answers.
A roster of representatives from elected officials present and made available Tuesday night included the Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Councilwoman Joann Ariola, Senator Joe Addabbo, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson, Councilwoman Lynn Schulman, Attorney General Letitia James and Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Community Board 9 serves Woodhaven, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Kew Gardens. The next Community Board 9 meeting will be held at the same location on Monday, Feb, 13.