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2013-08-08 / Other News

Community Board 18 Tiptoes Around Budget Requests

By Sam Akhtar

The rumba, the tango and the electric slide have nothing on the beginning of the budget dance. Dust off your dancing costumes for the beginning of the budget process for Fiscal Year 2015.

The Statement of Needs and Priorities was recently released by Community Board 18 Chairperson Saul Needle and District Manager Dorothy Turano. The report outlines the concerns of the community and is used to determine funding in the budget process. The city is known for turning down most of the requests proposed by the Community Board, but Needle and Turano are no strangers to doing the waltz while waiting for approval on many local projects.

Many of the issues that need addressing, which have been covered by the Canarsie Courier, include recovery within the communities affected by Sandy, transportation, crumbling roads, and other general quality of life issues.

The Community Board weighed in on the flaws and problems with the 911 system. The Statement of Needs claims that operators were forced to take up pencil and paper as the citywide 911 computeraided dispatch system crashed several times, resulting in up to 90 minutes of downtime.

The board also urges Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Department of Transportation to recognize the highly unusual transportation challenges inherent to Canarsie and the surrounding areas as well as the unique needs of the population we serve. Unlike most other areas of the city, Community Board 18 is simply not accessible to the New York City subway system.

Turano said, “Residents must take at least one bus to reach the nearest subway station. Our neighborhoods are largely residential with a major shopping mall, Kings Plaza, and small shopping areas/ strips interspersed throughout, so there are no direct routes.” She continued, “This means that we constantly have a large number of buses and commercial truck traffic on our residential streets. The addition of bike lanes would impede traffic even further and post a hazard to everyone who uses that roadway, pedestrians and bicyclists included.”

The Statement also addressed traffic congestion around the Kings Plaza Shopping Center, citing numerous studies that continue to identify the same problems. A myriad number of improvements were proposed, including changes in bus stop locations and operations, directional signage, street configuration with the widening of Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue, and the installation of pedestrian safety fencing along the south side of Avenue U, from Flatbush Avenue to East 55th Street. Turano stated that the exterior is outdated, poorly maintained and is becoming an eyesore.

Another problem is the rampant illegal street parking of commercial vehicles, delivery trucks, 18 wheelers, car carrier trailers, the well-defined “4 Sale” cars, and the autos/SUVs, with and without license plates, left all day at metered parking and on the sidewalk in front of the various Auto Malls on Utica and Ralph avenues, Avenue U and Kings Highway. The report also highlights the proliferation of “illegal dollar” vans particularly at and around the Kings Plaza Shopping Center, on Flatbush, Flatlands, Utica, Ralph, Remsen avenues, Avenue U and the Gateway Shopping Center in East New York.

Subsequently, the board asks Bloomberg to give the Department of Sanitation increased manpower to maintain the numerous traffic islands along our roadways and addressed the neglected, unattended areas that are breeding grounds for vermin and illegal dumping – creating a community nuisance and safety hazard.

The State Legislature and the Mayor are encouraged to continue to examine the direction of public education in the community, recognize the role of teachers and the need for parental involvement.

Turano told the Canarsie Courier, “Our priorities are well defined. I’m cautiously optimistic these needs will be addressed.” She went on to say, “I’m exceptionally concerned about the homes on the waterways.”

The budget process is chock full of drama, intrigue and colorful performers. It promises to be better than the latest season of Dancing With The Stars!

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