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Community Board 5 ponders ambitious capital budget requests during public hearing session in Middle Village

Sep. 14, 2023 By Anthony Medina

A public hearing at the Community Board 5 meeting at Christ the King High School in Middle Village on Sept. 13 regarding the fiscal year 2025 capital and expense budget of New York City, as it pertains to the board’s district, brought some requests and skepticism from board members.

Community boards across the city gather information from their respective communities to formulate a statement on the district’s needs and budget requests. For Community Board 5 (CB 5), which serves the neighborhoods of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village and Ridgewood, these requests need to be within reason, as District Leader Gary Giordano emphasized in detail.

At the start of the meeting, three speakers were given the chance to ask the board to consider specific projects for budget use. Ted Renz, the executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, asked the board to consider a capital improvement project for Myrtle Avenue.

The last time the BID received a major capital improvement project was in 1983 and 1984, according to Renz. Those projects helped to create the foundations of Myrtle Avenue today, but decades later, more work is needed, he said.

“The improvements that we’re asking for may or may not include new sidewalks without brick pavers, new curbs, new historic M-poles on the side streets, removal of all belgian blocks from our over 300 trees; Parks Department no longer does this practice anymore, and we might consider that the city should consider looking at upgrading the sewer lines and other upgrades to utilities, and water lines, as they went in at the turn of the century,” said Renz.

Ridgewood resident and CB 5 Staffer John Mayer also asked the board to consider adding to their list a project to add a multi use access path to Highland Park and the Ridgewood Reservoir along Vermont place and Cypress Avenue. Mayer told the board how dangerous conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Secretary of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, Peggy O’Kane, spoke on behalf of the civic group asking for funds to eliminate ongoing rat infestation issues in the area. Complaints about rats are constant at the civic group and city funding could help aid in the elimination of rats.

While the board listed to these considerations carefully, District Leader Giordano made clear what the board should expect moving forward, especially since he served among the few still at the board who would rally in the central jury room at Queens Borough Hall.

“For a while, each city council member has been allocated at least $5.5 million a year for capital projects. So what most of them put the money into projects for is the park or the library or the community center,” Giordano said. “They’re not going to put money into a sewer project. It’s not going to be popular enough and it’s only going to benefit that block usually and they can cost an extraordinary amount of money.”

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar shares her success with legislation to make Diwali a school holiday and reminds members to attend her public safety town hall featuring NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban on Wednesday, Sept. 20.Photo by Anthony Medina

CB 5 was joined by Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, Councilman Robert Holden and other representatives from the offices of local legislators. The legislators updated residents on their work over the summer and upcoming events.

When the board shifted focus on the extension of the term of variance for Outreach Development Corp., another issue regarding liquor licenses resurfaced in conversations that followed.

After a question regarding the extent to which the board is able to interfere with the distribution of liquor licenses by Salvatore Crifasi, who also made mentioned the business Taj Village, which was accused of operating its business illegally by Councilman Holden, Giordano directed all blame to discrepancies by the State Liquor Authority (SLA).

“We will send our comments to the liquor authority and they do what the heck they want,” Giordano said.

Giordano referenced a business specifically on 465 Seneca Ave., which managed to obtain a temporary liquor license despite the board sending sending evidence of alleged criminal activity from the location.

“I think Sal, to be honest and all of you, I think the money matters more to the state government than the quality of the establishment. They’re getting pushed to okay licenses. They’re giving temporary permits like you give out candy,” Giordano added.

CB 5 Chair Vincent Arcuri reminded the crowd that the purpose of the board is to act as an advisory on these subjects.

The next board meeting will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 11.

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