Queens Community Board 1 is proud that there are almost never any close votes. Many votes are unanimous or have one symbolic dissenting vote. And even the most contentious and divisive issues are decided by voting margins of 3:1.
It takes strong leadership and moral fortitude to go against what most residents want. But they don't know what's good for them. We do. That's why we're on the community board. And you're not.
- The Steinway Mansion remains one of our top concerns. Since a 1988 excavation by the New York Insitute of Anthropology found proof of prehistoric American Indian occupation (circa 1600BC) on the site, we have been accutate aware of potential developement issues that could arise from this property actually being "important archaeloglical site." In late May, 2015, bulldozers and dumpters removed much of the hill to obliterate, at least we would hope, and traces of Indian civilization in pre-European Astoria.
The architect for current the plan is the firm of Gerald Caliendo. Mr. Caliendo does not live in the area but has graciously served on the Community Board since 1977. Since service, by law, he cannot directly financially benefit financially board members, we would like to applaud Mr. Caliendo for his continued altruism and public service with regards to his financial benefit in the planning and destruction of the Steinway Mansion site. Because Mr. Caliendo is of the highest character, we would like to dispel any rumors that his political donations, over $13,000 (the largest of any board member), have any influence on his or our service, actions, and inactions.
Of course this never could have happened without the refusal of Queens Community Board 1 to even consider supporting a plan for the Steinway Arts Center, a major tourist destination, education, and arts district anchored by Astoria's most famous mansion and the Steinway Piano Factory.
As always, the Greater Astoria Historical Society took pictures of the site so future generations can visit their charming museum and remember the past and other Astoria momentoes and curios.
- We protect the rights of automobile owners. Our chairman has personally witnessed bicyclists on his way into work and they have almost no regard for an automobile. Therefore they will got no bike parking.
Thanks to the hard work of Queens Community Board 1, there has never been the removal of any traffic lane or parking space for the benefit of bikes or pedestrians."We’ve already endured bike lanes where we are not supposed to drive." We have and will continue to vote against any attempt to remove even one car parking space. There's nothing like speeding cars to keep away the riff-raff and maim people who support the "anti-automobile attitude of this administration."
And no, it doesn't matter if more than half our members are too busy to attend meetings. If it's pro-bike, we're against it. And we don't need a quorum to fight against those who "have no regards for an automobile and do not follow traffic laws."
- Amazingly, in a sign of changing times in 2016, Queens Community Board 1 did approve the removal of a traffic lane and the installation of a bike lane. Amazing!
- The Queens Community Board 1 approves more outdoor seating for "eateries" than does any other community board. (For some reason, the Queens Community Board 1 calls restaurants "eateries.") Who doesn't like sitting outside in private establishments? It helps public safety. And we like outdoor "eateries" because it gives the neighborhood a classy "European" look. We boy do we love the "European" look of our neighborhood. Especially if you like your "Europe" without historic buildings, trees, public spaces, or bicycles.
But your application for outdoor seating will not be approved if disrespect Queens Community Board 1. After a unanimous vote in approval of Watawa Sushi sushi's application, our Chariman, Vinicio Donato, objected and said he wanted to vote against it. He said, "I want him to know that at least one person voted no." A second vote was then taken, with all the board members in attendance voting against this application. According to the Astoria Post: "Laughs once again filled the room." After a representative of the restaurant supplicate himself properly to our Chairman, the vote was changed to approved.
We would also like to inform the owner of Dutch Kills Centraal that he had best learn to hold his tongue and refrain from disgusting quotes that belittle our livelihood.
- Queens Community Board 1 fights "landmarking" and so called "historic districts." Queens Community Board 1 fights tirelessly to protect the rights of developers and property owners to do as they please. Old homes and mansions that gave the community character, value, and safety have been replaced with new buildings notable for an abundance of window air-conditioner units. Many have won awards.
There are 109 landmark districts in New York City, but you won't find one of them in the area served by Queens Community Board 1! Queens Community Board 1 is one of the least "landmark" friendly community boards in the city. In fact, there are only four "landmarked" buildings in the area covered by Queens Community Board 1 (plus one clock).
We were peaved at the precident of the owners of the Clock Tower who actually wanted their building landmarked. We would have been happy to fight against landmarking on principle, but the Landmark Preservation Commission approved the designation.
Queens Community Board 1 encourages the efforts of the Greater Astoria Historical Society to preserve images of historic buildings after they're demolished.
- Queens Community Board 1 is currently fighting development on Roosevelt Island because increased traffic to and from that island might increase traffic in the Queens Community Board 1 area. "They are getting a beautiful building and we are getting all the garbage." "The streets are not build for heavy load trucks." Or bikes. Or pedestrians. The streets are built for the minority of household who own cars. The streets provide free public space to store our cars when not in use.
- The value of residential developments built in Queens CB 1 between 2002 and 2013 totals $70.6 million dollars, a staggering windfall for the real estate industry. As of 2013 there were ZERO affordable housing units closed or completed from the voluntary Inclusionary Housing Program in Queens CB 1.
- Former Queens Community Board 1 member Mario Lalicata made the news again when he was sentenced to jail for felony larceny. To repeat, Lalicata is no longer a member of Queens Community Board 1. Of course Queens Community Board 1 never condones criminal behavior. Mario Lalicata is a former member. Membership, we all know, is based on a person's character and ability to best serve the community. No doubt back when Lalicata was appointed, of all the residents of Queens, Lalicata had the best character and ability to serve the community. We don't know how such a good boy could go bad. A shame, really.
- Citi Bike is inching closer to Queens Community Board 1, but don't blame us! We can't control what State Senator Michael Gianaris, City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, and Queens Community Board 2 do. But in the name of the son of honorable Council Member Peter Vallone, Sr., we are doing our best to slow the spread of bicycles in Western Queens. Rest assured you won't see any of these bike shares north of 34th Ave any time soon.
- Former Queens Community Board 1 member Mario Lalicata made the news by scamming renters
(allegedly)in a real-estate fraud. Lalicata hasn't donated money to a Vallone since 2000, when he and Lina Lalicata gave $500. Of course these gifts had nothing to do with why he was appointed to the community board. They never do. "My intentions were good," Lalicata said. Enough said.
- With a bare quorum of members present, Queens Community Board 1 supported a zoning variance by a vote of 19-7, with 1 abstention.
It is important to reiterate that even though one of the architects currently working on the project sits on Queens Community Board 1 board, and "though he’s allowed to speak legally," the Chairman asked him not to ("because it doesn’t look kosher"). Besides, the architect abstained from the vote.
Nor should it be seen as problematic that the Zoning and Variance Chairman who led the committee and originally reviewed the application was one of the architects on the project in 2009.
Nor is it relevant that neither of these men live in the area of the community board. They serve because they care. The have interests. But not financially interests, because that would not be allowed.
Just think, with 178,000 residents in the area, what are the odds that two of 27 voting community board members would have a direct connection to this very project which was built larger than allowed and destroyed a few homes in the process?
Obviously, this is absolutely not a conflict of interest. But don't take our word, here is the city's list of helpful links on conflict of interests and community boards.
- Queens Community Board 1 was informed of a parody Queens Community Board 1 Website. This should not be confused with the real website of Queens Community Board 1. Compare the two. It's pretty easy to tell which of them is real is which is, as a board member put it, "a blah blah site, probably written by a girl."
It's just a shame that some "anonymous morons would make false accusations against a hard-working, voluntary community board." After all, "everybody is entitled to free speech. But to impersonate and try to come off as representing a city agency is just wrong."
- In April, Queens Community Board 1 had a close vote! This is rare.
- Queens Community Board 1 finally discovered the internet! Along with a "website," it turns out computers are a great place to share recipes and watch videos of adorable grandchildren.
- Queens Community Board 1 successfully fought two anti-car efforts. With 65 percent of potential voting members present, the Board took a bold stance (by a vote of 25-7) against the wishes of the vast majority of residents and defeated DOT efforts to impose a small "Times Square" like pedestrian plaza on Newtown Avenue. This DOT proposal would have actually closed a 30-foot strech of road and removed three parking spaces. And everybody knows a pleasant public space attracts bums. That's the forward-thinking urban vision you can count on from Queens Community Board 1.
- Queens Community Board 1 voted against a proposal by Queens Kickshaw to eliminate a parking space in front of their store. The business wanted to create a so-called "bike corral" which would have provided parking for 12 bicycles. While more parking is usually one of our overriding concerns, we drive and do not bike to stores. Besides, why do people pay so much for coffee and grilled cheese without meat?
- At a town hall meeting in Astoria, one of the members of Queens Community Board 1 responded to a statement from a person from the Muslim American Society of Queens by saying, "your people are violent and disrespectful!" She was saddened that these words were misinterpreted and regrets if anyone was offended. To clarify, these words "were directed only at abusive and disrespectful livery cab drivers who have created a problem in the community for many years, and not to any broader community." OK?
- Queens Community Board 1 "greenlighted" rezoning that protects the character of the neighborhood while giving developers the freedom they need for larger, more profitable modern buildings, including luxury condominiums.
- The City of New York paid a $98,000 settlement to a former female staffer at Queens Community Board 1 who had claimed in a federal lawsuit that she was sexually harassed by the Board's Former District Manager. There was no finding or admission of any wrongdoing. According to the accused, "It was all a crock of s--t. The fact that she's getting anything is an injustice.... She was incompetent and the lawsuit was retaliation because I told her to get out or I'd write her up and get her fired."
- Queens Community Board 1 defeated efforts to place a 50-unit home for the mentally ill in our "visually and historically adept" waterfront area. We don't know what this phrase means, but we do know it's our backyard. So, no.
- The Queens Community Board 1 successfully defeated a plan to create a rail link to LaGuardia Airport. The plan would have extended the N train to the airport. "The project should be on the back burner and remain there. We will fight this thing as hard as we can as long as we have to."
While the plan would have been of huge benefit to the city and most of the community's residents, Queens Community Board 1 members do not take public transportation to the airport. We defended the minority rights of home owners who were worried about the construction noise. Not in or above our backyard, please.