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Crime & Cases November 3, 2011  RSS feed


Tackle Issues Large And Small At CBR Meet
by Sam Goldman

State Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan listen to residents at the Citizens for a Better Ridgewood meeting held Oct. 24 at St. Aloysius Church. 
(photo: Sam Goldman) State Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan listen to residents at the Citizens for a Better Ridgewood meeting held Oct. 24 at St. Aloysius Church. (photo: Sam Goldman) Local pols graced the Monday, Oct. 24 meeting of Citizens for a Better Ridgewood (CBR) at St. Aloysuis Church to hold court on redistricting and other important topics.

A relatively small crowd due to a change of date (the meeting was moved up a week due to Halloween) was treated to a visit by Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and State Sen. Michael Gianaris.

Gianaris, who replaced George Onorato in the State Senate 10 months ago, noted that a redistricting plan must be in effect before the 2012 elections.

“I don’t know why Ridgewood gets this treatment ... but it always ends up getting split up,” he noted; “there’s no one who represents Ridgewood and only Ridgewood.”

The current method of state redistricting, he noted, benefits lawmakers over communities; Gianaris is pushing a proposal to create an independent process, and has the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

He then turned to a series of groping incidents in Sunnyside, Astoria and Brooklyn, including a nine-yearold in the children’s section of the Astoria branch of the Queens library whose feet were grabbed by an adult male.

Noting that the man was only charged with a misdemeanor since the male did not touch the child in a suggestive area, Gianaris is proposing a bill that would make the “inappropriate touching of a child” a felony.

He urged anyone who has been the subject of inappropriate touching to call 911.

Nolan spoke of the new leadership at Grover Cleveland High School.

“We have so many assets at Cleveland (High School),” she told the crowd, adding that with a new principal at the school, “we’re feeling optimistic.”

She then turned to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, which has been rumored to be in danger of closing.

“Our local hospital is our largest employer,” she noted; “it’s very important that we have a local hospital.”

Renz on MABID 101

Theodore Renz, who serves as executive director of both the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (MABID) and its parent group, the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation (RLDC), went over the organizations’ shared history.

According to Renz, the RLDC was created in 1978, along with the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation and other civic groups, “to address the declining conditions that were happening in our communities.”

The group quickly took up the major project of renovating Myrtle Avenue, adding brick pavement and pedestrian plazas.

This led to the push for a BID, which began in 1982 and was finally achieved in 1988.

With its $406,000 budget—which comes from an assessment levied annually on businesses in the area—the BID coordinates promotional events, sales and holiday lightings, as well as sanitation programs.

Recently, Renz noted, the BID is running a farmers’ market at the Ridgewood Triangle (located at Myrtle and Cypress avenues) on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and recently renovated and redecorated Venditti Square, “a space we feel is very important to the community,” at Myrtle Avenue and Woodbine Street.

Renz noted that he may bring other improvements to Venditti Square, such as live music events.

The BID is also working on a temporary pedestrian plaza at Myrtle and 71st avenues; if it is successful, Renz stated that he would push for a permanent plaza.

Renz noted that the agency also helped spearhead the 2009 creation of an intermodal bus and train terminal at Myrtle and Wyckoff Avenues, with the bus stops on Palmetto Street.

The intermodal still needs electronic signage alerting bus drivers that a train has arrived, he added, so that they could remain in place and allow train passengers to switch to buses.

Currently, Myrtle Avenue has “a good number of vacancies” due to the economy, Renz noted, with the vacancy rate at five percent as opposed to the usual three percent.

“Hopefully as the economy begins to turn around, retailers will again be looking to come into those spaces,” he told the crowd.

The state of the Ridgewood Theatre is also being eyed, with Nolan telling Renz that “we need a performance art space” at that location.

Crime update

Capt. John Travaglia of the 104th Precinct updated the meeting on crime stats, with Travaglia, the command’s executive officer, noting an increase in felony assaults, grand larcenies and auto thefts contributing to an 11-percent spike over the past 28 days.

The felony assaults, Travaglia told the crowd, have been domestic in nature, while grand larcenies have remained a persistent problem in the precinct.

The precinct remains down four percent in total crime, however, and “as far as the yearly number goes, we’re doing better than most of the borough,” according to Travaglia.

He then turned to traffic fatalities, which have been cut in half this year, due to increased enforcement of drunk driving. The 104th Precinct is up 32 percent in DWI arrests.

Travaglia called the precinct’s crackdown on drunk driving “the number one thing that, to me, saves lives.”

Update from Crowley’s office

Lydon Sleeper, representing City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, told the crowd that the lawmaker will be holding a hearing in the new future to explore the status of Hart Island in the Bronx, which is home to the city’s potter’s field.

Crowley is also pushing for signage on Myrtle Avenue that would direct drivers to the 104th Precinct.

Sleeper also noted that the Parks Department is eyeing a proposal by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to remove a deserted newsstand at the corner of Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue, the location of a road bridge that allow Long Island Rail Road cars to pass.

“If you need more capital funding, tell us and get this thing done,” he claims he told the Parks Department.

A Jersey barrier at the intersection’s northeast corner has also been causing traffic issues, according to Travaglia.

“I’m in fear of someone hitting this and flipping their car over,” he warned.

CBR’s Michael Hetzer suggested to Sleeper that funding be sought for renovations to Prokop Square, at Cypress Hills Street and Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood.

CBR usually meets on the last Monday of the month at St. Aloysius Church, located at 382 Onderdonk Ave. in Ridgewood.