Borough president now accepting applications to join community board

Here’s your chance to get involved with your local community.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is now accepting applications from community-minded people to serve on their local community board. Ridgewood is represented by Community Board 5.

Community boards play an advisory role, contributing to land use and zoning decisions, city budget priorities and public hearings on a variety of local neighborhood issues.

Each board meets a full meeting monthly, and members also participate in individual committees, which host regular meetings.

“Government works better when we have active and engaged members from whom to draw expansive knowledge and extensive life experiences,” Katz said. “Serving on a community board is a significant commitment, demanding in both time and energy.”

“Civic-minded residents interested in playing a larger role in the governance of the city, helping to ensure the delivery of municipal services and serving Queens families and neighborhoods are encouraged to apply.”

The community board membership application is available online at www.queensbp.org/community-boards.

The application deadline for new and current community board members is January 12, 2018.

The two-year term of service begins on April 1, 2018.

Mafera Park’s hockey rink due for upgrades

Some good news for those clamoring for improvements to the hockey rink at Mafera Park.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley announced that the site has been included in a multi-site contract to improve hockey rinks throughout the borough.

Construction is expected to start this spring, according to the Park Department.

Crowley funded $500,000 for the renovations, and the de Blasio administration put in another $500,000.

“Kids, parents, players and more have expressed a great need for these rinks to be fixed up. They are used everyday, throughout every season,” she said. “Securing this renovation means that countless people can continue to safely enjoy this space year-round.”

Crowley wants to downzone all of District 30

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley

If you feel Ridgewood and its surrounding neighborhoods are being threatened by overdevelopment and the g-word (gentrification), here’s a bit of good news.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley has requested the Department of City Planning begin a process to downzoning her district, including Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale.

Earlier this month, Community Board 5 already passed a proposal to downzone portions of Ridgewood.

Local residents are weary about the ongoing conversions from single-family homes to two-family rowhouses.

“Today’s significant development pressures are creating new construction that is out of scale in our local communities,” Crowley said. “The Department of City Planning must take another comprehensive look at the district. It is our goal to find ways to maintain the existing built from and to ensure real-world impacts related to parking, traffic and schools are fully considered.”

New WIC center to help families in Ridgewood

A new state-of-the art facility will provide low-income and immigrant families with access to healthy foods, breastfeeding support and education around healthy parenting and pregnancies.

The facility, located at the corner of Madison Street and Myrtle Avenue, is run by Public Health Services, the state’s largest provider of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Previously, families utilizing WIC were served by a center on Onderdonk Avenue, but the approximately 1,700 clients outgrew the space.

“Unfortunately, we were not in the friendliest and most welcome site,” said Zach Hennessey, vice president of Programs and Services for Public Health Solutions. “We have created here an environment that is empowering, welcoming, spacious and bright.”

According to Hennessey, woman who participate in WIC have healthier pregnancies. Their children go on to have better diets, lower risk of childhood obesity, and regular source of medical care.

The facility will also offer mothers and their children access to health insurance enrollment and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), all co-located at the same address.

Public Health Solutions CEO Lisa David explained that in addition to helping families access healthy foods, they will also offer a full range of healthcare education on topics like childhood diabetes and when to take a kid to the dentist.

“There’s educational components to this,” she explained. “It not only helps reduce the risk of childhood obesity, it really helps coalesce the family.”

“We had a very small space before so this will allow us to truly expand the number of people we can serve,” she added.

With the Trump administration looking to cut WIC funding by $200 million, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez said the federal government needs to see the center as an investment in the longterm health of the community.

“This is what we call human capital,” she said. “The money that we invest is well spent.”

Crowley wants DOT to investigate alleged ticket trap

After receiving numerous complaints about an alleged ticket trap in Ridgewood, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is calling on the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to investigate the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and 60th Street.

According to Crowley, drivers are complaining that cars are getting boxed into the intersection with NYPD traffic enforcement agents nearby to hand out expensive tickets.

“Many constituents are getting stuck, blocking the intersection and are being unfairly ticketed,” Crowley said in a statement.

In a letter to Nicole Garcia, the Queens commissioner for DOT, Crowley requested an onsite visit to the intersection to determine how it can be made safer and more efficient.

Ridgewood pol, others, take a knee

Photo courtesy the City Council Progressive Caucus on Twitter

Councilman Antonio Reynoso joined a group of his colleagues in taking a knee on the steps of City Hall yesterday, as a show of support for professional athletes that are protesting racial inequality and police brutality.

The protests, started last year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have drawn widespread criticism in recent weeks, especially by President Donald Trump, who has sent several tweets denouncing the practice of kneeling while the National Anthem plays.

Joining Reynoso was Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander, who posted a lengthy statement on Facebook highlighting why the group took a knee.

“I feel compelled to #TakeAKnee today along with my colleagues, and with professional athletes who have had the courage to put their careers on the line in their struggle for racial justice,” he said. “Colin Kaepernick took a knee a year ago as a protest against the too-often repeated unjustified killing of unarmed civilians, largely African-American men, by police, without cause – and without accountability.”

EPA finalizes clean up of Ridgewood chemical site

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the final details of a $39.9 million remediation of the former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company superfund site on Irving Avenue in Ridgewood.

According to EPA, a study of the site revealed that several buildings as well as soil and sewers were contaminated with radioactive materials from past industrial activities.

While there is no immediate threat to nearby residents because of the agency’s past actions, the comprehensive plan addresses potential long-term risks through a combination of response actions, including permanent relocation of commercial businesses, demolishing contaminated buildings, excavating contaminated soil, and cleaning/replacing contaminated sewers.

“EPA is taking action to address the unacceptable risk posed by the radioactive material that remains at this site,” said Catherine McCabe, Acting Regional Administrator. “Through the Superfund, we will implement a permanent fix that will protect those who live and work in the area over the long term.”

The proposal calls for permanent relocation of six commercial businesses and the residents in one apartment above a business, demolition of all contaminated buildings on site, cleaning/replacing the contaminated sewers and excavation, removal and off-site disposal of an estimated 24,300 cubic yards of contaminated soil, sediment and debris.

To see the final plan in full, visit the EPA’s website.